Take Time Devotions Shared Through:

Emmanuel Lutheran Church, (763-441-2555).  www.Emmanuel-elkriver.org

AND Faith Community Lutheran in Zimmerman, (763-856-3600).  www.faithclc.com

TAKE TIME – Direction

Have you ever reached a point in your life where you feel like you have no direction and
your plan for life is in error? Often times we may not even notice such a thing is happening,
until we are way misguided. Some of our children are being raised in situations that are not
conducive to growing up in life with a God-fearing direction. In other situations, our youth
are being guided in a direction of living without purposeful meaning being caused by those
who have no God-given morals, no accurate flight-plan guiding system so to speak. Marriage
for many has lost its direction (look at the increased number of divorces) and more and more
living together without listening to the Holy Scriptures for direction. Crime and violence
continue to increase. The Holy Bible says there is no excuse for breaking the law. The list
could go on but you have the idea for direction in life.

There are numerous words from the Holy Bible which give guidance. For example the
Bible says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all
your mind.” This is the most important commandment. The second is like it: “Love your
neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and Prophets (meaning the fulfillment of God’s Word
for a happy and meaningful life with “direction”) depend on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:37-40). Love gives direction! To help these words find purpose, meaning and
direction in life, read 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter of the Holy Bible. Also read the
Holy Gospel of St. Matthew in the fifth chapter, verse 3 through 10, which are the beatitudes
(blessings) of Jesus. These words deal with direction for a fulfilled life in this generation.

Shouldn’t we all be listening to God’s words instead of the contemporary philosophies
which are pushed at us in the name of today’s freedom acts? Take Time and try God’s way
if you are in need of direction for life. Many further relative passages dealing with a sense of
direction include: Proverbs 4:25-26; Luke 9:57-62; Romans 12:2; Philippians 3:7-11; and 1
Peter 1:23 to name a few. May God’s blessing of love be yours today and always in choosing
a sense of direction and set your “computer” to live a God-pleasing life and a life with
meaning for you today.

Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired

TAKE TIME – Resting

Resting is something we all need in the course of 24 hours, one week, the month, or the year. This is the way we are made, that is, for time to rest our body and mind. We need to be refreshed and strengthened from the past and for the future. That leaves us to make the most of this time in which we live today.

  All of creation is made this way. It was no different with God in the beginning after the creation. For six days God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them and then the Bible says He rested on the seventh. Perhaps today, if we would all use some time to rest instead of doing whatever it is that we do which prevents us from resting, especially with God, we would be happier people.

Parents could spend so much more time with their children and the children with their parents, if they would rest with each other. Now resting doesn’t mean staying in bed. Resting means a diversion from what you do regularly, a change of pace, at a different tempo. How beautiful it would be if families would rest by worshipping together in God’s House weekly to begin the calendar day we call Sunday. How much more precious would our family time be if we spent some of it with each other in the Word and in prayer for one another and singing praises to Almighty God. Perhaps we would have more peace in the community and in the world if during this rest period we would be doing something together in the quiet of each other’s love and presence.

Jesus spent time resting on the mountainside, in the temple, on the lake, with His friends, and just walking with His disciples helping one another to face the future. Let us, during this change of seasons take some time to rest, and go forth with calm and a refreshed spirit in the Lord.   R.I.P.

                                             Written by Pastor Raymond Harms

                                                      TAKE TIME – Standards

If you have wondered the “why” of things happening around you as many of us are lately, perhaps this is the right time to speak of just a small facet of the “why” around us. It seems that the murders, assaults, robbery, divorce, gambling, drinking, drugs, and so forth, are increasing. It would appear that people are moving away from the standards which used to be the norm.

Today, man is considered another animal in the order of things. Man, under this definition, has lost his God-given identity. Psalm 139 shows the value God places on the relationship between the Creator and the created and gives Him an identity second to none other. When man changes the Word of God to mean what man wants it to mean, “Standards” change. Abortion is no longer the killing of life, but a convenience accepted to make an unacceptable life-style the norm for everyone. The wanton destruction of life in any form becomes the standard by which personal conflict is resolved. The living of life by man and woman outside of marriage allows for doing what you want without the commitment of faithfulness “until death (in God’s order of time and not man’s discretion) separates” that union. This leaves all relationships without standards that develop into quite unstable life-styles.

When adults do not practice what they “preach” to their children, is it any wonder that youth have such problems in life? There is an old saying, “If the children cannot do it, neither can the adult.” God’s Word does not change at a certain age for the individual.

God is fair, just, right, and the standard of love itself. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). It is for all of us to listen to, learn from, live by, and grow in. Bad things will change to ways of peace and security and love when Christ is the Standard we live by. In a hymn this phrase is sung: “…On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” This brings you a standard to live by and a life full of hope and security.

                                     Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired

TAKE TIME – Self-Respect

We seldom think about our self-respect, yet it is so much a part of every day life and means so very much.

So often we underestimate ourselves. We are all gifted with gift(s) from God and fail to reach our potential because we have little “self-respect.” We are unsure of ourselves for one reason or another and then become stunted in our social and personal growth, to say nothing of our spiritual growth.

You are invited to read Psalm 139 in your Holy Bible. Here you see how highly God thinks of you and how deeply the author looked within himself and reflected a deep self-respect. There are 50 personal pronouns used to express the relationship between God and man. This perhaps is the only chapter in the Bible that speaks of such a personal, one on one relationship with God, the Almighty. If the author of Psalm 139, an ordinary everyday person as you and me, could recognize such meaning and purpose in his being and such a personal relationship to God and God with him, so can we. When we know that God thinks highly of us and loves us so much that He gave us His only Son to suffer and die in our stead (John 3:16), that love and concern puts meaning into our very being.

 If you have little self-respect, friend, it doesn’t have to be this way. God made each of us special and to be respected and to have self-respect. Each of us is unique in our own special way in which God has made us. Knowing and believing this as the psalmist did, it makes a world of difference for happiness. You can look yourself in the eye and say, “I am somebody whom God loves and I love, watch out world, here I come.”

                                   Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired

 TAKE TIME – Warmth

Everyone needs to have a circle of family and friends to feel accepted and to feel needed, where “warm” memories are built. But, so much happens to oppose this. There are words that should never have been said, and arguments. There is the death of a loved one, and a feeling of regret or hurt because we didn’t take time to make amends before his or her passing. Electronic devices are one of the most recent distractions to building closer relationships within the heart and mind. There seems to be so much that prevents relationships and friendships to develop and mature into a bonding that lasts a lifetime.

There is someone Who can provide you with the means of lasting “warmth” in your life and His name is Jesus. In a marriage He is the third partner; within the family, He is the constant companion; within our business or profession, He is the one Who guides us in making the right decisions. Without Him we do not have the means of forgiveness, of patience, of understanding, of sincere Love (1 Corinthians 13, please read this.) that go to providing us with “warmth”, or to use another word, security.

For all who are living without this precious “warmth” of Jesus in their lives, it is understandable that there is unhappiness and loneliness and insecurity and coldness. Take Time for Christ in your lives, in your family circle, in your home, in your job. It doesn’t have to be with great fanfare, it can be quietly in the solitude of a heart at peace with God through Christ Jesus and dear friend as St. Paul said, “ I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13). When Christ is our focus in all parts of our life, no matter what someone may say or do to us, we will have “warmth” from God and from those who do care for us.

                                   Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired

TAKE TIME – Comfort

      Sometimes we wonder who is in control in this messed up world, with shootings, abortions, destroyed lives, divorce, and the list could go on and on.

  But we should not be discouraged! Though life around us may seem to be unsettling causing misery of unmeasured proportions, there still is hope, for God still is in control. Someone once said that if you think these things are happening because there is no God, what would life be like if there truly wasn’t a God? We cannot pass this misery off on God. Man must accept responsibility for his own actions.

  The child of God has the greatest challenge placed upon his/her shoulders now more than ever before. We need to take the issues of life on personally by getting involved as the children of the Heavenly Father. St Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13). God has never left our side. If it appears someone has moved, guess who moved?

  Together with Joshua we are invited to say, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15). So much would fall into place and so many more lives would be blest, if we would let go and let God take control. His way worked before, it can work today. Listen to Jesus speak: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6). Here is the control we all need daily for lasting peace, happiness and security.

                                   Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired    

    TAKE TIME – Looking Ahead

           Looking ahead is probably something we all do for a major part of our lives.

  The story is told of an ant who all summer long was busy storing food in its home. Other ants ridiculed him for not taking time to enjoy life. The ant was doing what comes naturally, preparing for the winter when it could not live on the surface of the ground. When winter came the ants that did not plan ahead were not prepared and had a difficult time.

  Jesus tells it better when He says we are to trust in Him, we are to follow Him, we are to commit our lives to Him. The Lord expects us to use our time wisely. We must put our complete trust in Him for all our needs. Our future is in His hands. He has promised us, “Come unto Me all you who labor and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). He has said, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not trust your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5).

  To be sure, the Lord expects us to use the mind He has given us to plan, to work, to do all that our talents extend to us, but to go beyond this and worry when we look ahead is not healthy and is not right. This phrase comes to mind, “I know not what the future brings, but I know Who holds the future.” Let us all place our future in His hands because the future is His gift to us as we live in the present, God’s gift to us today. Looking ahead we need not worry, only live wisely using the gifts He has so freely given to us to be secure in all our ways. The Bible says, “Commit your ways unto the Lord, trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass.” (Proverbs 37:5).

                                     Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired

TAKE TIME – Friends

“Friends” are important to everyone, from little children to the very elderly, we depend on friends for support, understanding and encouragement – someone we can turn to, confide in, trust in.

The Holy Bible says a great deal about friends. “Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13). This is the greatest of what we know as sacrifice, yet, people are ready to do just that for a friend. Read about the great friendship between David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel, Chapter 20.

We need more of this today. Focus seems to be shifting from our friends to ourselves – from friendship to self-absorption. How could we have come so far? Perhaps it is because the greatest Friend one has ever had has become lost in many people’s lives. This Friend I speak of is Jesus. We sing in a beautiful hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus, All Our Sins and Griefs to Bear!”

This Friend Jesus is always there for us and we can always talk with Him about anything in life because He was, as Scripture says, “…tested in everything…” (Hebrews 4:15) as we and overcame all. He did it perfectly for us, His friends. What a Friend you have in Jesus!

                                         Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired   

TAKE TIME – THE PASSION FLOWER

“The Passion Flower” is rich in symbolism. “Passion” in the religious sense refers to the deep sufferings of our Lord before and during the Crucifixion. His emotions were sharp and searing, and searching to the very core of His being.

  The early missionaries to the New World used the Passion Flower as a teaching aid. The ten petals and sepals were said to represent the ten faithful Apostles (Peter denied Jesus and Judas betrayed Him). The three stigma represent the nails, the inner corona resembles the crown of thorns, and so on.

Fanciful interpretations, to be sure, but they do remind us of aspects of Christ’s sufferings in our behalf. The historical record is in the closing chapters of the Four Gospels.

The necessity of the Cross is a mystery. No neat theories can make it clear. The loving, devout Christian knows that God could have rescued Christ from His enemies, but as an obedient Son, Jesus knew that He had to take the sacrificial suffering upon Himself, in a deep sense the Father shared that suffering.

 Our proper response to the love of Christ is the devotion of our lives to Him. The Christian Church is a major source of our inspiration and power where the Word of God stands in all its truth and purity. We read it often for strength and comfort and news of Jesus the Savior of all.

During these last days of Lent let us spend time with the Lord by attending worship in a Christian Church, set aside time for a time of private prayer and meditation, and prepare for Holy Week, the moment of deepest passion of Christ Jesus. Prepare for the celebration of Easter, the resurrection of Christ, the right way – personal time with your Savior Who loves you with His life. Take Time.

                                          Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired   

  

 # 169 TAKE TIME – Anything Goes?

When you look at the way society is today, you see a variety in people’s ethics and morals or the lack of them. Life-styles change, values change, attitudes change, morals change, and so on and the result is that it can confuse many.

What can we do today about the unhappiness we feel by this kind of living all around us? Throughout history, here is the one way that has worked for many people. Open the Bible! Do not accept the current idea that this Book was written for another time in history. No, this Book was written for all generations. The psalmist said: “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105). St. Paul wrote: “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God unto salvation…” (Romans 1:16). No truer words were ever written.

The Holy Bible is a book that would straighten out all of our current problems here in America and in this disjointed world. The Bible is written about One Who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” (John 14:6). It was written to show the way of eternal life in Christ Jesus by faith through forgiveness in grace. It was written as a guide to those who seek counsel for tough decisions and heavy cross bearing. It was written to show the world truly how to live in peace. It truly has a code of ethics and morality which can wipe away all tears if only adhered to.

If you are searching for something that will add meaning, purpose and value to your existence, just turn to the Bible, God’s holy, inspired and inerrant Word. You will experience more self-respect, honor and happiness. Why not begin today by reading the Gospel and letters of St. John to find the value and true meaning of real living.

                                          Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired

 # 166 TAKE TIME – Quiet Time II

At some point everyone needs “Quiet Time”. The Lord meant for us to have a time of rest in the course of a week.  (Genesis 2:1). In the Sacred Scripture the book of Genesis says that in six days God labored and on the seventh He rested. Resting (Quiet Time) is setting apart a time to refresh the heart, the mind, and the spirit. Jesus, in addition to His quiet times on the mountain or lake, always went to the temple to pray. This should tell us something today here in American when attendance in God’s house is reaching a new low.

Each week Jesus waits for you to refresh yourself in His House through His Word and Sacrament, to spend time in prayer with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Some have convinced themselves this is not necessary. This is difficult for me to understand. If our Savior, Jesus Christ, needed this time, don’t we need it just as much? His invitation is there for you to come and spend this very special “quiet time” with Him regardless of circumstances. Jesus said, “Come unto Me all you that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). Take Time in some God-pleasing way for “Quiet Time” as He invites you and Take Time to “smell the roses.”

Written by Pastor Raymond Harms

 #163 TAKE TIME – Fire

Let’s briefly look at the varied meanings of “fire.” The American Collegiate Dictionary has 40 different definitions for “fire.” In addition it has 39 word combinations with the word “fire” being the first word, e.g. “fire alarm.” In addition we have use for the word “fire” in such a way as, “I have a fire in my soul” meaning we have a passionate desire to carry out a purpose in our life meaning. For example, I have a compelling drive and purpose in my life to reach the hurting people both physically and spiritually with the Word of Jesus Christ, Who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” (John 14:6).

We can narrow it down to the most common experiences in our life. Children seek the warmth of the overpowering love, the fire of their parents which provides emotional security and much spiritual security in the lives of a Christian family. Young adults seek the fire of each other’s love and championship. Parents seek the fire of the love of each other and their children for fulfillment of purpose in their lives. Middle age seeks the comfort of the security of their loved ones’ fire. Seniors seek the fire of family love and the love of memories, and many find security and hope in God’s love for them.

However, let us all individually and corporately seek the fire of God’s love in our daily existence. The Children of Israel had God’s fire lead them out of Egypt and through the wilderness to the Promised Land. We have the fire of God’s love every minute of our life, day and night, in good times and in bad, to lead us too. As said earlier, the Word of Jesus Christ (John chapter one) is our “fire light” in life. It is He Who said, “I will be with you always even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20). Dear friend, Take Time and trust your life to Him Who alone can bring you happiness and show you the way.

Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired

#162 TAKE TIME – Quiet Moments

What would we do without time for “quiet moments”? Everyone needs time to sit and just reflect on the past, consider the present, or look to the future. In our world today, most are crazy busy, multitasking and on social media of all sorts and kinds. It used to be that there was always a time and a place where a few “quiet moments could be spent to refresh the mind and the spirit.

Families need to take time to look at God’s creation in the lowliest of weeds to the most majestic of plants. Some of my most beautiful moments come from recalling time spent with my parents, sitting beside a lake, walking through the woods and hills, resting on the edge of a large valley or worshiping together in the house of the Lord.

The Lord of heaven and earth has created everything beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-12). It is for us to Take Time to find this beauty in the “quiet moments” we need to find living in the 21st century. Jesus would often go with His disciples to a quiet place, pause for prayer in the temple, and teach on the mountain sides for “quiet moments” that would refresh His spirit.

You are invited to Take Time to spend some “quiet moments” to make this happen. All too soon those dearest to us are gone, or events change around us when we long for peace and then it is too late. You are invited to remember when taking these “quiet moments” to take one more Person with you. This Person is Jesus, your Friend and Companion for life. He gave you His all that you “might have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10b). Beautiful “quiet moments” await you.

                                           Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired

 # 161 TAKE TIME – The Bible (continued)

This is an anonymously written verse we printed only partially three weeks ago due to its length. Here is the last part.

….One reads with father’s specs upon his head, and sees the things just as father said. Some read to prove a pre-adopted creed – Hence understand but little what they read. For every passage in the book they bend to make it suit that all-important end! Some people read, as I have often thought, to teach the book instead of being taught. And some there are that read it out of spite – I fear there are but few who read it right. So many people in these latter days have read the Bible in so many ways that few can tell which system is the best, for every party contradicts the rest! But read it prayerfully, and you will see, although men contradict, God’s words agree. For what the early Bible prophets wrote, we find that Christ and His apostles quote: “So trust no creed that trembles to recall what has been penned by one and verified by all.”

The Bible is a beautiful and comforting book to read and follow true. It has something to say concerning every issue you encounter. The Bible is for but one purpose and that is to show you the way to the Lord and through His Son Jesus Christ “to have life and to have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10). God gave us this gift. Therefore, let us treasure it highly and sacredly. This is the Book and the only Book that was meant for you above all else.

                                         Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired

# 160 TAKE TIME – Passing

The “Passing” of time leaves many people troubled with what happens that they have no control over. The natural occurrence of events in the course of our lives such as gray hair, wrinkles, and other changes to our bodies when we reach 40, 50 and beyond are too much. Some may resort to cosmetic surgery, and other temporary delays of aging, but it is inevitable.

I agree with the writer of Ecclesiastes (3:1ff) who said, “God has made everything beautiful in its time.” In the last chapter of Ecclesiastes (12) God shows us His sense of humor in telling us the reality of our number of years. Why not read this chapter and use it to balance out your perception of life. There are lyrics to a song that tell us, “Don’t worry, be happy.”

This week we pass from the year 2016 to the year of 2017 with some uncertainty. For the child of the living God we can be sure of this one certain fact, “He has the whole world in His hands.” And He will not let man take control. He may let man experience the folly of his ways using them to teach us to rather let God be in charge. Man will always reach his folly and either end up in destruction as history has proven for us, or he will end up either in death or be destroyed by what he has done. Yet, a child of God can live out his years and enjoy them in spite of the aches and pains that go with them. After all, we are only human with the effect of sin, which has disrupted what God created, which the Bible says, “Was very good.”

Throughout the Holy Bible God speaks again and again that He will have the final say and He will proclaim the defeat of all His enemies and the victory of all those who confessed Him as Lord over all. Let us Take Time and during the passing of one season to another with joy in our hearts accept the grey hair, creaking bones, and all else with all the best medical care available to us. This is His world, so why not let His gift of “time” be a joy for celebrating. Praise to the Lord God almighty. Have a great Happy New Year with God there to bless you.

                                                Written by Pastor Raymond Harms

 # 159 TAKE TIME – Christmas Miracle

Do you believe in miracles? I do. Miracles happen every day around us and to us. The gift of life and the gift of health or regained health, even though it may be limited. The list could go on.

The greatest gift of all is God giving us His only Son, Jesus Christ, on that first Christmas over 2,000 years ago. This enabled St. Paul later to say with conviction, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13). And also, “Neither death, nor life, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” (Romans 8:39). Now that is a miracle among miracles.

We are about to celebrate Christmas. Just think for a minute what Christmas truly means. It means that God worked the greatest miracle of all, the birth of His Son. Jesus was conceived by a miracle of the Holy Spirit with the Virgin Mary. He was born as you and me. Jesus grew up in the home of His parents Mary and Joseph and learned to love, respect, obey and honor them. He studied the Word of His heavenly Father to the degree that He could sit and discuss Bible teaching with the doctors of theology in the temple at the age of 12. He became involved in the lives of people for about three years, at the age of 30. He was tempted in every way that we are, yet, He did not commit one solitary sin. His only purpose was that we would live with Him in Heaven for all eternity, and for this He willingly died on the cross in our place. Christmas is from conception to the resurrection and beyond, and as He said, “that we might have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10b). My friend, believe this with all your heart and you shall live. Celebrate this Christmas with Christ as your guest and you shall never be the same again.

Worship Him in a truly Christian Church near you to celebrate His birthday. Come, for you are welcome in the Family of God .

                                          Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired

 # 155  TAKE TIME – FOR GRANTED

We all want to be appreciated and acknowledged for our hard work and extra efforts whether at work or at home. It is very painful to be taken for granted. Sometimes just a simple “thank you” can make a big difference.

In fact, we have a deep need to be appreciated. Many of today’s problems come about when no one notices the other person’s love or efforts however simple or complex they may be. Marriages end, job interest is lost, doing your best in school or in life loses momentum and our best efforts are lost. All have a relationship to the common malady called being taken for granted.

Jesus had a response to this in His own way of life, His own care and concern for all people of all ages and all levels of society. He helped them realize how important they were to Him and what they meant to Him when He gave up His own life for their eternal well-being. From the youngest children to the most elderly, Jesus had time for them. From the most influential to the least, Jesus spent time with them. From the sickest to the healthiest, Jesus gave them His love and His power.

This same Jesus is ready to reach out to you because He knows you and does not take you for granted. With Jesus you belong to the Family of God. You are a child of the heavenly Father. Rejoice, my friend that you count with Him. You do matter and are never taken for granted.

                                        Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired

 #154 TAKE TIME – SUFFERING

Christians around the world confess, “He suffered under Pontius Pilate.” Suffering to Christ was nothing new. The religious and government leaders of His day were very adept at causing suffering. In their minds, Jesus was a threat to them. In truth Jesus was only a threat to sin, death, and the power of the devil.

The Bible says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have a High Priest Who has been tempted (tested) in every way, just as we are – yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15). Nothing of human experience was omitted from Jesus’ life. If you are tempted with drugs, so was Jesus. If you are tempted with alcohol, so was He. If you are tempted with power, so was He. Jesus was tempted in every way, and yet, did not sin. In Jesus not giving in to sin He gained an eternal victory for us. Through our trust in Jesus, His victory becomes ours. In the greatest of all exchanges, you and I get credit for Jesus perfection, and our sinfulness went with Jesus to the cross. The end result is that we have forgiveness and are at peace with God.

The world rejects this peace and chooses rather to muddle along in the pain and strife of our manmade sinfulness. Christmas is just around the corner, and yet the world has long forgotten the message of the angel at the birth of Jesus, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord…Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”       

The peace of God that goes beyond our human understanding is the antidote to the heart ache and brokenness of this world. It was won for us on Calvary.

“Thanks be to God Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

                                         Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired

# 152 TAKE TIME – Visits

Once in a while, everyone likes the peace and quiet of being alone. But, to be alone, completely alone, is another thing. All people are designed to be with one another.

Visits whether planned or unplanned can be fun and make for good memories, such as with family and friends at the holidays, on vacation, and so on. They can also mean going to someone’s need to help them in their hour of joy, loss or pain. We do this because we know it is the right thing to do. We have been brought up or trained, and often times we learn from people coming to our aid. Now life has become more complicated with “gadgets” that seem to occupy our time, giving us less time to get out and visit with others. We have lost something vital and sacred to a part of our lives, being with other people who complement our lives with their uniqueness and personal inner beauty.

Jesus was always visiting somebody individually or in a group, and how people looked forward to His coming. It is no different today. If Jesus has not visited you, He wants to do so. He stands ready as St. John wrote in the book of Revelation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20). What an invitation for you and for me to such a visit from the Lord Almighty. You have a Friend Who is ready and waiting, you cannot beat this invitation from the Lord Himself.

                                         Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired

 #151 TAKE TIME – Commitment

It doesn’t matter what your age is, “commitment” is a necessary part of living. We all have a commitment from God in Christ Jesus, our Lord. St. Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) and so can we!

We all need one another and we all need a commitment from each other. Perhaps if there was more commitment founded in love for Jesus Christ, there would be less pain in our lives. For many people, Jesus Christ and His “church” seem to come last in the order of priorities and commitment. What has caused this is that we put other things first, for whatever reason, and not the Family of God.

We are surrounded by far too much unhappiness and the lack of family identification. We see the results in the change of our family value system and the lack of Christ-centered family priorities in our current culture. It is no different in our nation and the world around us.

 esus had His priorities straight. He made His commitment to His Heavenly Father and to us. What an example for us to use in the forming and keeping of our commitment to each other. Jesus is the richest source of strength and direction for commitment. He has promised to always be with us, to answer all our prayers offered in faith. He has extended to us the hand of a true friend. He paid a price for us by laying down His life so that we might live freely under all circumstances. He said we can count on Him in all situations. That’s commitment. We only need to listen to Him for real peace and joy. He is waiting with open arms for you and the whole world.

                                        Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired

TAKE TIME – Almost

How often do we use this word in our conversation? We say, I almost made it on time,” or “I almost won,” or “I almost had an accident.” That one little word can express either regret or relief among other things.

It is for us to set realistic but challenging goals. We need to strive for the best, the happiest, the most fulfilling and God-pleasing goal(s). We cannot live our lives in realms of reflection and become satisfied with saying, “I almost…” and then lose sight of reality. Let’s stop and realize that “almost” doesn’t make it.

Our Lord never stopped short of the most complete challenge in all things. We can thank God that we have such a caring God that He did things for us all the way. He can never say, “I almost saved them.” He can say “I have saved them, I have overcome all things for My Family, I have accomplished My purposes, I have won the great fight for those that are entrusted to Me, I am always with those who will follow Me. I do make it possible for My children to succeed where they would fail by themselves.”

You are invited to come to Him and seek out His way, His truth, and His life for your life. That’s what Jesus tells us in His own words, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6) and “I am come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10). With God’s love we need never have to say, “I almost found peace,” or, “I almost found the answer to my problem.” We can say with St. Paul, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13). Take Time to live successfully with Christ your Friend and Companion for life.

Written by Pastor Raymond Harms

TAKE TIME – Change

Throughout life we are affected by our surroundings, sometimes to our peace of mind and security, and sometimes to uneasiness and insecurity.

Children need stability and guidance as they go into an uncertain future. In all circumstances, what is secure, and therefore comfortable, may be changed, forcing children to live with new ground rules. 

Perhaps some “change” back to what was once sacred we would find more peace of mind. The way a family used to live – with more togetherness and closeness, producing pleasant memories around that family circle. When Christ and His Church were the centers of people’s lives there was a bond that held people close. The sacred Scripture was turned to and believed; forming the basis for living that provided a foundation for a sense of security in times of change.

The Lord, Jesus Christ, enables all of us to face each day with a secure feeling and sense of being to build families and unite and bond relationships. No matter what forces its way into our lives, Christ is there or at least is ready to be there. There to give us the guidance and strength necessary for a peaceful life. My friend, all you need do is ask the Lord to resume control of your life in His way. Problems met in Christ are resolved because they are in His hands. St. Paul knew what he was saying when he wrote, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13). Christ is ready to walk with you through each day and experience the peace of mind which is not upset when “change” takes place. Go to Him, you will like Him.

Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired

 TAKE TIME – Suspense!

The suspense of not knowing what’s going to happen can be exciting. But the suspense of waiting can be hard for just about everyone.

Life is a continuous challenge bringing with it suspense at every turn. Now some can handle life with nerves of steel, while others have difficulty. There is a way to approach life with its suspense. A life totally committed to the Lord has a resource that calms the nerves, namely, as a song puts it, “Put your hand in the hand of the man Who stilled the waters…” The Bible says, “Commit your way unto the Lord, trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37:5). Also, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.” (Proverbs 16:3).

How exciting the lives of the disciples must have been while walking with the Lord Jesus as He prepared them for their lives after He ascended into Heaven. Their lives touched and changed the lives of many people. With a life committed to the Lord, it will be filled with suspense and excitement because you never know where it will take you with all of its turns and curves. Life for this person (me) is exciting, happy, suspense filled, with never a dull moment. Suspense for me can be found in the littlest of flowers to the largest of flowers. Life is exciting with 19 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren (as of this printing). Each morning is filled with suspense because we don’t know what the day will bring, but trust the Lord and it will be beautiful even if you are to carry a cross, because you know that He is there with you every step of the way helping carry the load.

Written by Pastor Raymond Harms

TAKE TIME – WIN/LOSE

St. Paul wrote these words about living: “In a race, everyone runs but only one person gets first prize. So run your race to win. To win the contest you must deny yourself many things that would keep you from doing your best. Rather than to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup, we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

The same is true for us: life (the race) can be very difficult at times. Let us keep in mind what St. Paul said about running to win. We win when we give it our all, even though others may cross the finish line before us, because the Lord Jesus is with us in life and with Him we will win the race called “living.”

We need only “Take Time to smell the roses,” and we will find God’s many blessings which fill our lives, that He already gives us.

       Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired,

TAKE TIME –  Sharing

You may remember a man named John Wayne, “the Duke” as he was nicknamed. He said this about sharing in the context of love: “Talk love, talk slow, and don’t say too much.” In other words, if we spend less time judging and more time sharing out of love, this will be a far better world to live in. Jesus’ words are still better, “Love one another.” (John 15:17). Our actions speak louder than words.  A car passed me the other day in a no passing zone at a high rate of speed with a sticker on his bumper which read “I Love Jesus.” I think you will get the point made here.

Couldn’t we say this is a good time to slow down and re-evaluate our values for living? Shouldn’t we be satisfied with what we have? Would there be fewer wars if nations would share more with each other? Would there be fewer divorces if couples spent more time with each other sharing their own personal values? The Holy Bible says, “Having food and clothing let us be content.” (1 Timothy 6:8). In other words we can find happiness in ourselves and with each other if we share more – not just materially, but rather with what counts the most, namely, love and caring. We need to remember the words of 1 Corinthians 13.

Sharing is a good way of living. We can begin with ourselves and our families and those around us. Individually and corporately we can find the greatest joy in life under any circumstance, if we sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to His words, and follow His example. Take Time to live a life of sharing with others for a life filled with contentment and purpose.

                                          Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired  

                                                             TAKE TIME –  Why?

In life when things go badly, we often ask “why?” Why did it happen or why did it happen to me? These events either bring great joy or great pain. Contrary to public opinion, we don’t always need an answer that explains everything to our satisfaction. We need to remember what St. Paul said in Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Often times such an event will bring people closer together or will drive them apart.

We may feel very strongly for those carrying a great cross. We share in their pain and would like answers. We may reach out to touch those hurting, with words of kindness and love. We may cry together, hug, we kneel and pray together, and we remain always there for them. God is not the creator of evil, pain and suffering. He is a God of love, as the Bible says: “God is love!” (1 John 4:8). Evil comes as a wedge between God and us and each other. He many times is the One that causes us to ask the question “why?” when unexplainable things happen to cause us pain.

If God were to withdraw Himself from the world, the world would disappear leaving no trace. We want you to know that God loves you with His whole being in spite of the pain and hurt you may be experiencing. God has not withdrawn Himself from you. Let us always look to Jesus Who waits to carry us through the perils of life, to give us strength when we feel weak and comfort when we hurt.

The question “why?” cannot always be answered here and now. Trust the Lord Who cares and waits with outstretched arms for you. Jesus said, “Come unto Me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). The Psalmist wrote these words of God: “Call upon Me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you.” (Psalm 50:10). When such things happen in your life, and you ask “why?” trust Him Who is the Giver of your life. He will bring you strength and peace for this day. Only Take Time for this loving and caring God. Read John 3:16 and see if this is not true.

                                         Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired   

                                                         TAKE TIME –  Tragedy’s Eyes

Almost everyone has read or heard of the “Little House” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, or has seen the popular television program. In one story a tragedy helped Laura see things as she had never seen them, and helped her develop capabilities that would help her touch many lives. That experience is not unique to her.

In a devotion I recently read, written by Ron Hutchcraft, he used the term, “Tragedy’s Eyes.”

Americans watched it happen on a national scale after the awful events of September 11, 2001. The deadly attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon was a tragedy of unprecedented proportions. But what followed was absolutely amazing – a national unity that most of us had never seen before and we’d love to see again, a renewed love for our country, millions turning to God, a national resolve to change things. It’s hard to imagine that any of that would have occurred without the awful catalyst of that tragedy.

What happened on the national scale – what happened to Laura Ingalls on a personal scale – those are pictures that remind us of the good that can come from some of life’s most painful experiences. God often uses tragedy to help build people into something greater.

Job is the man whose name is forever equated with human suffering. The Bible tells us that he lost his health, his wealth, and his children. As he is coming out of his long, dark tunnel of suffering, he says something very revealing to God. It’s in Job 42:5. Job says, “My ears had heard of You but now my eyes have seen You.” What Job experienced, millions of believers have experienced over the centuries – that you see God in tragic times in a way you just don’t see Him in good times. You don’t really know the Lord until you really need the Lord.

Tragedies aren’t good, but they can produce a great good. Out of our health crises, or financial or family crises, our failures can become compassion, tenderness, a sensitivity that can open up a lifetime of ministry to hurting people.

And there’s something about our hard times that shakes up our priorities. It makes us realize the unimportant things we’ve been focusing on and the important things we’ve been neglecting.

There’s something about a tragedy that helps us see things we could never see before; things that God will then use to touch many lives.

Written by Pastor Terry Grzybowski   

 #136 TAKE TIME – The Power of One Lonely Light

I grew up in Winona – The deep South of Minnesota – From time to time we would have some pretty violent storms roll through – It was always an adventure – The skies would darken – The wind howl – The trees creek – the lightening flash – and then BOOM! Total darkness! In a matter of moments, my mother would find some candles, and as soon as we lit one, the darkness dissipated. It was just one candle, but it wasn’t dark anymore.

In a devotion, written by Ron Hutchcraft, he talks about “The Power of One Lonely Light.”

That lonely light in a dark place might be you. Maybe you’re in a place where dishonesty seems to be the norm, or talking dirty, or talking trash about others. Where sin is a laughing matter and honesty and integrity aren't given much thought. And then there’s you. You’re the living proof that there’s another way to be. Integrity instead of deceit - looking out for others instead of just yourself - embracing joy rather than negativity - offering hope in an atmosphere of despair. You are that light in a room filled with darkness.

That’s exactly how we are supposed to be. In Matthew 5, beginning with verse 14, Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill…” He said, “…cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

One thing unique about being in total darkness is this: it only takes a little light to make a big difference. That’s true wherever you are. You are the face, the voice, and the hands of Jesus. You carry a message of hope for something better.

And you can be sure Satan is doing everything possible to blow out your light. He’s pushing all the buttons to discourage you, to get you to compromise, or even bail out. Stay strong. If you flicker, if you go out, other lives will remain in darkness. 

If your Savior has placed you in one of those dark places - know this - He has trusted you to be His light there. It’s a life-saving mission.

In a totally dark room - one lit candle overpowers the darkness. You may be that one lonely light. Burn brightly, because without you, the darkness remains.

                      Written by Pastor Terry Grzybowski, Emmanuel Lutheran Church   

  #135 TAKE TIME –  Touch

“Touch” is a human relationship that can be so troubling, so misunderstood, and yet so needed for the psyche of not only humans but also the animal kingdom. There was a time when the touch of someone close to you was a part of healthy development and the whole accomplishment of achieving.

Some years ago the United Nations was contacted for help in diagnosing why so many of one country’s children in orphanages were dying for no apparent physical reason. A study group was sent and after studying the situation, a report was made that the babies and growing children needed to be held and loved by their caregivers. That was the answer, the babies and children needed to be touched and held and caressed and spoken softly to.

Isn’t this what is so needed today by not only children but by adults also, someone to let the individual know they are loved and cared for? Today all too often this relationship is shied away from because of abuse by a few. The Lord said love one another. Jesus Himself set the example of receiving the little ones and the sick and the handicapped and the dying that were brought to Him for a simple touch of love and blessing. Couldn’t we be kinder, gentler and more loving to people? With Christ in our hearts why not start a practice of human touch and hugs for all that are brought to us. This would mean a few more smiles, a few kinder words, a few kinder actions and happier people in this troubled world.

As God’s children why not start a practice that is set forth in His Word and in Jesus time here on earth living among us. Let Jesus live anew through one another in our relationships at home, at our churches, and at our work places. Perhaps this would be the beginning of a new generation of happier and healthier people and less illness. We know it would be. Take Time. Try it, you might like it! God loves you and so do we.

                                                Written by Pastor Raymond Harms   

#134 TAKE TIME –  Impressions

Some say you cannot judge a book by its cover, still others say that it’s the first impression that counts. “Impressions” are very important in our lives. There is a story about two men who went to the same worship service on the same Sunday. The first man heard the organist miss a note during the prelude, (the before service music), and all he could think was, “Oooh,” because it grated on his nerves. He sees a teenager talking when everyone should have their heads bowed in silent prayer and says, “What is coming of this next generation.” He is aggravated when the ushers take the offering. He counts no less than five grammatical errors in the pastor’s sermon, He slips out through the side door during the closing hymn, and he promises himself that he will never come again.

The second man attends the same service, hears the opening music by the organist playing Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” Its splendor sends a shiver up his spine. He is proud to see a young girl speak to her friend about prayer and the difference it has made in her life. He is glad to see the church sharing through a special offering with the hungry children in the African country of Sudan. He especially appreciates the sermon that Sunday, for it answers a question that has been in the back of his mind for a long time. As he walks out the doors, he says to himself, “How can anyone enter this place and not feel God’s love?”

Each man differed in his impressions of that service. How about us, what kind of an impression do we give or receive with our lives? Do we judge too quickly, do others judge us too quickly in our everyday activities of living? Are we bothered by what others think of us because of the impression given at the time? Jesus was a man who lived according to the Word of God in loving all people regardless of their person or station in life. There were those that hated and despised Him and plotted to kill Him, while still others loved Him dearly and followed Him in His way of life.

Isn’t this the main purpose in and for our lives, to live as He lived loving all people regardless of who they are? I thank God that He loves me just as I am. He loves you also. That’s the impression He gave by His words and life. We can change our life style if it isn’t in harmony with that of Jesus. It is here that you can find peace and contentment for your life. Take Time to listen to Jesus and thereby give the right impression before God and this world. Have a great day and be filled to overflowing with that which truly counts.

                                      Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired  

 # 132 TAKE TIME – Warmth

Everyone needs to be accepted, to feel needed, to have a place in which “warm” memories can be built to last as long as we live. But so much can happen to oppose this. There are arguments, words that should never have been said. There is the death of a loved one, removed from our life before we can speak to undo the hurt, or to insure the love we have for him or her. There are trying economic situations, such as the loss of a job. Then there are today’s distractions such as: television, video games, the internet, and so on that occupy so much of a person’s time that they never do take the opportunity to build close relationships which produce “warmth” within the heart and mind. There seems to be so much that prevents friendships to develop and mature into a bonding that lasts a lifetime.

There is one, however, Who can provide you with the means of lasting “warmth” in your life and His name is Jesus. In a marriage He is the third partner; within the family He is the constant companion; within our business or profession He is the one Who guides us in making the right decisions. Without Him we don’t have the means of forgiveness, of patience, of understanding, of sincere love (please read                  1 Corinthians 13) that go to providing us with “warmth”, or to use another word in this context, security.

For all who are living without this precious “warmth” of Jesus in their lives, it is understandable that there is unhappiness and loneliness and insecurity and coldness. Take Time for Christ in your lives, in your family circle, in your home, in your job. It doesn’t have to be with great fanfare, it can be quietly in the solitude of a heart at peace with God through Christ Jesus and dear friend as St. Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13). When Christ is our focus in all parts of our life, no matter what someone may say or do to us, we will have “warmth” from God and from those who do care for us.

Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired

# 131 TAKE TIME – Money

What is it that is important for our lives today? We know one item that is very important and for some it is all that matters, namely, MONEY!

Years ago men went to Alaska to look for gold. Some penetrated far into the interior. They came upon a miner’s hut which seemed as quiet as a grave. Entering they found the skeletal remains of two men and a large quantity of gold on a rough table. There was also a letter which told of their successful hunt for gold. They were so eager to secure gold that they had ignored the early coming of winter in that faraway north land. Then one of those sudden blasts of winter engulfed them. The snow became so deep that they had no way of escape. Gradually their food gave out and they law down to die surrounded by gold.

The Sunday School Times said “There are many people like those two foolish miners. They covet wealth, houses and lands. Suddenly the icy hand of death is upon them and they perish eternally. “What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).

Often people work two or more jobs to pay their bills and in some instances, this is the only way to pay their bills. In some cases one cannot find a job because of the lack of an education or too much education. This must be very difficult.

We cannot help but think of these words from the Holy Bible which say, “Having food and clothing let us therewith be content.” (1 Timothy 6:8). We need to carefully use all our gifts and talents to provide a living for ourselves and our family. However, let’s not forget the one thing we all need, namely, Jesus Christ in our daily lives. Jesus and His Word need to be a weekly experience, and not just at Christmas, Easter, funerals, weddings and a few other special events in our lives. “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6). Let us all slow down and “Take Time to smell the roses” to find the happiness and peace that God intended for us. Try it, you might like it!

Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired

 #130 TAKE TIME – Wishes

This is the time for many, many wishes. If you don’t believe me just listen to someone facing a decision or conflict or some such issue of everyday life, and you will hear most say “I wish…” We’ve spoken of the wish book before, but, now also, I say that this wish is something all of us have for just getting through the day. We wish for less pain, less hurt, more friends, more happiness, more peace.

If such is your thinking, there is good news for you. Many years ago angels came down from heaven and spoke to the shepherds who were watching their flocks by night and said “Peace on earth and good will among men.” God knew what was in the hearts of all people of all time everywhere. He knew of the desire for peace, for less hurting. That is why He gave us His Son to be born of a virgin that He might take our place and suffer the pain and take the hurt and forgive the sin of all.

Friend, this is not just a wish, this is an accomplished fact for you and for me. Nowhere will anyone find anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ, God’s Son that can bring so much peace of mind and heart. God knew exactly what He was doing when He sent His Son to be born of a Virgin in a lowly stable for you and me. No pretense here, just the sincere desire, the deepest love, to lift us up from the mess of living today we so often find ourselves in whether by our own design or that of someone else.

Come to where the Savior can be found by finding a truly Christian Church in your community that shares this Christ and with them find continuously that peace which will never again give you time to wish. You have in Christ, the Lord of life peace, love, hope and joy which cannot be found anywhere else. God’s best to you, my friend.

Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired

#128 TAKE TIME – Living for God

There was a lady named Florence who was born to a wealthy couple. She grew up to be an active and attractive young woman. People believed she would become a wonderful wife for some young man.

But at the age of 17, Florence heard the voice of God calling her to do His work. She became a devoted servant of the Lord.

Over the course of her life…Florence claimed that God spoke to her 4 times…telling her what He wanted her to do!

At the age of 37, Florence became convinced that she was going to die. She was scared! To avoid dying, Florence went to bed. Doctors examined Florence, but they couldn’t find anything wrong with her. Convinced that the doctors were wrong and that she was going to die at any moment, she refused to get out of bed. She would only allow one person to visit her at a time, they would come to see her in her bedroom. And they had to have an appointment.

And, Florence was right! She did die. She went to bed and stayed in bed for 53 years in an attempt to fend off death. Yet, Florence eventually died at the age of 90.

Who was this Florence?  Well, she had distinguished herself by helping the wounded in the Crimean War of 1854. She was an incredible nurse. Her full name was Florence Nightingale.

How sad! Florence lived in near isolation for 53 years because she was afraid to die. Instead of spending her years in this world enjoying the gift of life, she lived in fear of death.

Psalm 116 proclaims that we have been delivered from death. In Christ, God’s Word promises that He will be with us here and now in this life’s journey, and there will be glorious things awaiting us in the life to come. What this means is that we are free to live our lives each day with boldness, with confidence, and without fear. God wants us to understand that He has a plan and a purpose for our lives. We are God’s children. We are workers in His Kingdom, and we are part of something very special.

                             Written by Pastor Terry Grzybowski, Emmanuel Lutheran   

 #127 TAKE TIME – Succeed

What does it mean to succeed? This question can be answered in many different ways. Someone once said, “A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” This is true. I believe it was Abraham Lincoln, who said, “You can please some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time.” Guitarist Les Brown said, “Shoot for the moon, even if you miss it, you will land among the stars.” The best statement among so many comes from God’s Holy Word, the Holy Bible, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 KJV).

We have much to face in these troubled times with wars on a number of fronts, the economic situation surrounds us, violence, and many other worries. No longer do I hear, “I remember back when….,” because this year it is testing the character of most people of faith, whether young or old. It is so easy to see the dark side of things.

BUT God has a plan and in that plan, we must be committed to our place in life and not stand so ready to compare ourselves to the “success” of someone else in life. If we have diligently worked at our calling in life, that is “succeeding.”  We can all remember our mistakes. Rather, let us remember those times when we accomplished something no matter how small or how great. Remember this One called Jesus! He never owned a home or piece of property, He never had any CD’s, or funds in the money market or cashed in any bonds; when dying upon the cross His mother was at His feet together with young John, His disciple, and a few who were mourning what was happening while many deserted Him, or, were standing there cursing Him. Yet, He changed the course of history by His love for all people and His commitment to that for which He was sent. Our calendar time table for the whole world is fixed around His birth (BC/AD). Rather than compete to succeed, let us “Take Time to smell the roses” and find our peace within from doing the will of our Heavenly Father Who through Christ has given us our purpose that is above all, namely to walk in His way and the way of His love.

                                        Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, Retired

 #126 TAKE TIME – Do Unto Others

I read a story about a rather legalistic Seminary student who wanted to have a scriptural basis for everything he did. He felt he was on solid ground if he could quote Bible book, chapter and verse to okay his actions.

He did all right with that until he began to fall in love with a beautiful young lady. He wanted very much to kiss her, but he just couldn’t find a scripture passage to okay it. So, true to his conscience, he would simply walk her to the dormitory each night, look at her longingly, and then say, “Good night.”

This went on for several weeks, and all the time he was searching the Bible. Then one night, as he walked her to the dormitory and once again started to bid her “Goodnight” she grabbed him, pulled him toward her, and planted a kiss on his lips. At the end of the kiss, the Seminary student gasped for air, and stammered, “Bible verse, Bible verse.” The girl grabbed him a second time, and just before kissing him again, said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

The Bible has a lot to say about love and friendship. Christian love is rooted in God’s love for us. In 1 John 4:7-12 we read, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love – not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us.”

PRAYER – Gracious God – Empower me to live as a friend-Reflecting Your love and care to all You have placed in my life. In Jesus name, AMEN.

                             Written by Pastor Terry Grzybowski, Emmanuel Lutheran   

  #125  TAKE TIME – You Are My Friends

In John 15:12-14 we read, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.”

Jesus calls us His friends. As friends, Jesus lets us in on His plan, and calls us to be part of His mission.

 Jesus’ plan was to lay down His life to win forgiveness and salvation for all. The mission has to do with making disciples by baptizing and teaching.

What is the most important friendship trait? In Proverbs 17:17a we read, “A friend loves at all times…”

Love for fallen mankind was God’s motive in sending Jesus to be our Savior. John 3:16 reads, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Managing our lives as friends of Jesus – We are on alert constantly looking for God given opportunities to extend Jesus’ love to the lost and broken people around us.

We PRAY-Gracious God – Open my eyes each day to see souls I can reach out to with Jesus’ love. In Jesus name, AMEN.

                               Written by Pastor Terry Grzybowski, Emmanuel Lutheran

    #124 TAKE TIME – A Friend Is There for You

The story is told that during his days as president, Thomas Jefferson and a group of companions were traveling across the country on horseback. They came to a river, which had left its banks because of a recent downpour. The swollen river had washed the bridge away. Each rider was forced to ford the river on horseback, fighting for his life against the swift currents.

The very real possibility of death threatened each rider. After several had plunged in and made it to the other side, a stranger asked President Jefferson if he would take him across the river. The president agreed without hesitation. The man climbed on, and the two of them made it safely to the other side.

   As the stranger slid off the back of the saddle onto dry ground, one in the group asked him, why did you ask the president to take you across the river?” The man was shocked, admitting he had no idea it was the president who had helped him. “All I know,” he said, “is that on some of your faces was written the answer ‘No,’ and on some of them was the answer ‘Yes.’ His was a ‘Yes’ face.”

Best friends have “Yes” faces. They are there for you. They are supportive, regardless of the difficulties you are going through. They are even supportive when you fail. They want to help you, be a blessing to you, lift you up, and build you up.

When the Holy Spirit creates faith in our hearts, not only do we receive forgiveness and salvation, but the Spirit begins to transform us.

In Galatians 5:21 and 22 the fruit of the Spirit is described as: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Attributes that lend themselves to the making of a good friend.

We PRAY- Gracious God – Help me to have a “Yes” face. Use me as your chosen instrument to reach out to others with the Gospel. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

                               Written by Pastor Terry Grzybowski, Emmanuel Lutheran    

#122 TAKE TIME – Watch Your Blind Spot

In the Proverbs 15:12 we read, “A mocker resents correction. He will not consult the wise.” Verse 5 of that same chapter says, “Whoever heeds correction shows prudence.”  Verse 32 reads, “He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.” It’s pretty clear what God is saying here, “Wise people know how to accept correction.” They know how to respond to criticism.

You and I need people around us to confront us, to challenge us, even to give us a little constructive criticism from time to time. Why? Because we have a blind spot. Everybody’s got a blind spot. We all have weaknesses we can’t see. There may be hurtful ways we treat people, things we say, ways we act when we’re busy or when we’re tired.

Often some of our most deep-rooted sins are those we can’t see very well.  They are like a blind spot.  God knows our blind spot could cause us to crash.  Because He cares about us, God places people in our lives who love us enough to confront us with the hard truth about us.

These people are like blind spot revealing mirrors.  Sometimes a parent is our mirror; our child or grandchild might be our mirror. Or it could be a friend. Hopefully, they will tell us some of our strengths, and what’s good about us, too, not just what’s bad.

Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Sometimes, though, that sharpening of our countenance might come from somebody who is one of those aggravating or even highly critical people in our life. But what they speak may be the truth. The measure of truth is in the words, not in the one who said it. And it may be that they’re 10% right and 90% wrong. Take that 10% as a gift from God to help you stay on course.

If our physical vision is faulty, there might be a blind spot that could make you crash. Because God loves you so much, He’s not going to leave that blind spot there; sometimes coming from someone who loves us, sometimes coming from a very unwelcome source. But consider, “Where is the truth in what they’re saying?” And take it for what it is…a gift from God to help you avoid a crash.

                              Written by Pastor Terry Grzybowski, Emmanuel Lutheran 

   # 120 TAKE TIME – Memories

The festival of Easter brings back many happy words, memories and thoughts to treasure; memories of family and friends getting together for a joyous time of celebration. And there are the words we heard of the resurrection of Christ the Lord.

We remember and see the filled churches, the joyous singing of words proclaiming the greatest joy and comfort for all.

BUT, there is more to Easter than get-togethers, than dinners and breakfasts, and Easter-egg hunts. Sometimes we get so busy trying our hand at living that we miss so much of the real beauty of God’s love which is the real reason Christians celebrate Easter, namely, Christ Jesus came, He saw and He conquered the three arch-enemies of us all: sin, death, and the devil. What a victory was His and ours through Him today. Living with Christ in your heart and in your life is really living.

So much in our lives today leaves one with fear and emptiness BUT NOT WITH CHRIST, the Lord. Christ has defeated death and has brought life and immortality to light for each one of us. Some say “prove that He rose,” but, in return let them prove He didn’t rise from the dead. Here is where God’s people find their strength for living through the daily experiences of life. Here is where strength waits for you with the living Lord and Christ Who has conquered all.

When Christian communities give testimony of a Lord Who cares so much that He won the victory for all and that community shares that truth with all, we are bound to see a difference. Easter lives because Christ lives and the message in our heart carries us on despite the challenges in our daily lives which would want us to believe something else to the contrary. This year let us all Take Time to fill the Christian houses of worship and rejoice because Christ is risen!

                                          Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired 

    # 117 TAKE TIME – Signs

From recorded time people, young and old, have always looked for signs of some event. Signs are important to and for us. We look very carefully as to the attitude of others toward us in our relationships, socially, at work and in our community. We care what people think and how people feel toward us.

In everything that changes in our lives, there is One Who cares for each of us no matter what our age or condition. That someone is Jesus! Recently in a Bible study we read a passage that the King of Life cared for us even in our most down moments and in our greatest pain. Clarence E. Macartney said, “No one who knows what can happen at sea would go to sea in a vessel that carried no anchor, even if it were the greatest and the most modern liner afloat, because circumstances might arise when the hope of the ship and all her company would depend, not on the captain or the crew, the engines, the compass, or the steering gear, but on the anchor.”

We sing in a beloved hymn: “My hope is built on nothing less, Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.” – Laz. Spengler.

During this Lenten season behold the sign of the cross, the empty tomb, and the Savior Himself Who loves you and cares so much for you that He took your place that you might live.

                                           Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired  

    #117 TAKE TIME – Support II

Support is something we all need at different times in our lives. We need it in our communities, in our schools, our families, in our places of work, our churches, our individual lives and so much more. We are made to give support as well because we are all “community” minded.

If children do not have support in their homes and by their families, they become very insecure and troubled. If couples don’t have the support of each other, there will be much unhappiness. If schools don’t have the support of the community for the best possible learning environment for children, the school will not give the best learning atmosphere possible, and our children will be the losers. If churches don’t have the support of confessing and active members, the work will not be done.

Jesus was fully aware of the need for support. He Himself, while praying in the garden of Gethsemane, went to His heavenly Father for support as He approached the hour of His suffering, pain and death. He invites all to come unto Him in their need and He promises to give rest and peace. “Come unto Me all of you that labor and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). He invites us to turn to His teachings in the Holy Bible when we are in need of guidance and He will show us the way: “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105). Jesus will never let us down.

When we experience those everyday needs at any time of life, we need only to turn to Him to show us the way to be free and at peace. He has not only told us of the problem, He has also given us the solution for our problems. You are invited to find your support in life with Him, namely, Jesus Christ, Who came “that we might have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10b). Only Take Time for the Lord in your lif

Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired

 #116 TAKE TIME – Direction

Have you ever reached a point in life where you feel like you have no direction? I believe this happens to many. Some of our children are being raised in situations that are not conducive to growing up in life with a God-fearing direction.  In other situations, our youth are being guided in a direction of living without purposeful meaning caused by those who have no God-given morals. Marriage for many has lost importance (look at the increased number of divorces), and more and more are living together without listening to the Holy Scriptures for direction. Crime is on the increase and the Holy Bible says there is no excuse for breaking the law. The list could go on, but you have the idea for direction in life.

There are numerous words from the Holy Bible which give guidance. For example the Bible says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets (meaning the fulfillment of God’s Word for a happy and meaningful life with “direction”) depend on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:37-40) Love gives direction!  To help these words find purpose, meaning and direction in life, read 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter of the Holy Bible. Also, read the Holy Gospel of St. Mark, Chapter 5 verses 3-10, which are the beatitudes (blessings) of Jesus. These words deal with direction for a fulfilled life in this generation.

With God’s blessing and guidance for direction in our life, life will have meaning and purpose. Should we not all be listening to God’s words instead of contemporary philosophies which are pushed at us in the name of today’s freedom acts? Take Time and try God’s way if you are in need of direction for life, and if you need help contact a truly Christian Church near you. May God’s blessing of love be yours and guide you today and always.

      Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired    

    #115 TAKE TIME – Good

Why be bitter and critical? You will be happier for finding the good, the positive, and the lovely in things.

Today it seems we hear so much more unhappiness. Our Lord speaks to this in His Holy Word. Read the following: Luke 6:27-49; 2 Corinthians 4; and Ephesians 4. These are just a few of God’s many words to help us find true happiness. The Lord said for us to love even our enemies when He said: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 19:19). 1 Corinthians 13 is God’s definition of love. When all can live together in this manner we will see the good in everyone.

Most of us know of someone so angry that they never have anything good to say. God says, “Love is patient, love is kind, it remembers no wrong, it forgives.” Jesus, on the cross, said of those who crucified and reviled Him, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Should anything less be said by us of those around us if forgiveness is warranted for a wrong? Reading 1 Corinthians 13 and Psalm 139 can help all to feel better about ourselves and those around us. Looking at the cross as we observe Lent, shouldn’t we say, “How He loved us.”

May those who are bitter and critical and those who are not critical and bitter find the love of God to be the source of strength and true happiness in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. This is good.

   Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired   

 #114 TAKE TIME – Peace

As you know, Lent began on Wednesday, February 10th this year, for Christians around the world. Lent means different things to different people. Some begin this holy season with the celebration of the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, or with something similar. For the child of God, Lent is a reminder of God’s great act of love which brings the children of God peace through our Savior Jesus. During some of the weeks of LENT we will bring you words on the precious gifts of the Son of God through His own sacrifice.

Peace is something we all want and need in life. We need peace in our family, at our place of work, with our neighbors, and so on, in our everyday existence. We certainly pray for peace in the world so that our young men and women don’t have to go off and fight some enemy that could well take their lives or injure them for life. We see a society, we see a nation, we see a world that is torn in life with strife, and we feel tired at the burden placed upon us daily.

The story is told of a tree beside a raging waterfall. The branches of that tree reached out over the water into the mist rising from the thundering water below. On one of the branches was the nest of a Robin. The Robin was completely at rest and at peace. It had no worry or concern. What a lesson for us in our lives.

In some instances the noise of everyday living is enough to scare even the strongest heart. But, learn from the Robin in that story. Learn from the One Who came with the express purpose of bringing peace to this world. We are in the arms of Him Who made the tree and the waterfall, we are in the arms of that One Who is fully aware of the hurt, the loneliness, the pain we might have in our lives. Very simply, trust in the Lord and He shall provide you with all that you need to make it through to the end. Our Lord said, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20). He also said, “Commit your way unto the Lord, trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm 37:5) Not empty words, but words from a caring and loving God Who wants only what is best for you.

You are never alone you have His eternal offer of peace made possible in Himself. Reach out and take His hand and live in peace despite all that surrounds you.

Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired   

 # 113 TAKE TIME – Tomorrow

Edgar Guest wrote the following, and let us TAKE TIME to seriously consider our procrastination (putting off things that need doing) until Tomorrow:

He was going to be all that a mortal could be Tomorrow.

No one should be kinder or braver than he Tomorrow.

A friend who was troubled and weary, he knew, who’d be glad of a  lift and who needed it, too; On him he would call and see what he could do Tomorrow.

Each morning he stacked up the letters he’d write Tomorrow;

 And he thought of the folks he would fill with delight Tomorrow;

 It was too bad indeed, he was busy today.

 And hadn’t a minute to stop on his way;

 “More time I’ll have to give others,” he’d say, Tomorrow.

The greatest of workers this man would have been Tomorrow.

The world would have seen him had he ever seen Tomorrow.

But the sad fact is he died, and he faded from view,

 And all that he left when living was through was a mountain of things

He intended to do Tomorrow.    ~ ~ ~                                   

 

The clock of time is wound but once.

And no one has the power

To tell just when the hands will stop.

At late or early hour.

 

Now is the only time you own.

Live, love, toil with a will,

Place no faith in “tomorrow,”

The clock may then be still.

            -Anonymous

Let us all use wisely our time today because tomorrow may never be, only today is that which counts.

The Lord waits to guide, hold, embrace, and lead you, trust Him today.

Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired  

#112  TAKE TIME – FIRE

We frequently hear the word “fire” used in different ways. Fire can be destructive and constructive. Children are taught to respect fire, and how to use fire. The older we get we become more aware of the “fire” in our lives.

Let’s briefly look at the varied meanings of “fire.” The American Collegiate Dictionary has 40 different definitions for “fire.” In addition it has 39 word combinations with the word “fire” being the first word, e.g. “fire alarm.” In addition we have use for the word “fire” in such a way as, “I have a fire in my soul” meaning we have a passionate desire to carry out a purpose in our life meaning. For example, I have a compelling drive and purpose in my life to reach the hurting people both physically and spiritually with the Word of Jesus Christ, Who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” (John 14:6).

We can narrow it down to the most common experiences in our life. Children seek the warmth of the overpowering love, the fire of their parents which provides emotional security and much spiritual security in the lives of a Christian family. Young adults seek the fire of each other’s love and championship. Parents seek the fire of the love of each other and their children for fulfillment of purpose in their lives. Middle age seeks the comfort of the security of their loved ones’ fire. Seniors seek the fire of family love and the love of memories, and many find security and hope in God’s love for them.

However, let us all individually and corporately seek the fire of God’s love in our daily existence. The Children of Israel had God’s fire lead them out of Egypt and through the wilderness to the Promised Land. We have the fire of God’s love every minute of our life, day and night, in good times and in bad, to lead us too. As said earlier, the Word of Jesus Christ (John chapter one) is our “fire light” in life. It is He Who said, “I will be with you always even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20). Dear friend, Take Time and trust your life to Him Who alone can bring you happiness and show you the way.

  Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired

TAKE TIME – GOD

For a moment, let’s consider in our minds and hearts Who we consider GOD to be. Recently, we came across this list about God, author unknown:

To the artist he is the One Altogether Lovely.  To the architect he is the Chief Cornerstone.  To the astronomer he is the Sun of Righteousness.  To the baker he is the Living Bread. To the banker he is the Hidden Treasure.  To the biologist he is the Life.  To the builder he is the Sure Foundation. To the carpenter he is the Door. To the doctor he is the Great Physician.  To the educator he is the Great Teacher.  To the engineer he is the New and Living Way. To the farmer he is the Sower, and the Lord of the Harvest.  To the florist he is the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley.  To the geologist he is the Rock of Ages.  To the horticulturist he is the True Vine.  To the judge he is the Righteous Judge, the Judge of all men.  To the juror he is the Faithful and True Witness. To the jeweler he is the Pearl of Great Price.  To the lawyer he is the Counselor, the Lawgiver, the Advocate.  To the newspaperman he is the Tidings of Great Joy.  To oculist he is the Light of the Eyes.  To the philanthropist he is the Giver.  To the preacher he is the Word of God.  To the sculptor he is the Living Stone.  To the servant he is the Master.  To the student he is the Incarnate Truth.  To the statesman he is the Desire of all Nations.  To the theologian he is the Author and Finisher of our faith.  To the toiler he is the Giver of Rest.

Upon research, all of the above can be and are found in the Scriptures as applied to God and to Jesus most specifically. What a great comport in these troubled times our God and Lord is so many things that can be applied to our daily lives. One must ask this question: Who is God to you? TAKE TIME to find out.

  Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired    

TAKE TIME – Is It Over or Just Beginning

We’ve reached that point in time when we are in between the passing and the coming of time as told by the calendar. This leaves many people with mixed feelings and emotions. Saddened by what was lost or changed never to be again and gladdened by what is unknown but anticipated.

No one likes to be unsure of their place or situation in life. Our Lord has some wise words for all to consider. He said, “TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND DO NOT DEPEND ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING.” (Proverbs 3:5). No wiser counsel could be given us than this, whether we are anxious or content. Jesus also told His disciples to become as little children, that is, having the trust of a child. In these uncertain times may it be exactly that, trusting in the Lord for all that is before and around you for everyday living.

A little child, who had entered the house with its father from a terrible storm outside was asked, “Weren’t you afraid?” to which the child replied immediately with a smile, “No, my daddy was holding me!” Our Heavenly Father is holding and carrying us, too, in this life of ours with all its uncertainties and unknowns. This, my friend, is in the hands of the Heavenly Father, and know this that He loves us so much it cost Him His Son Jesus. Therefore, let us trust Him between the past and the future because, now, in the present we are in His care and He shall give us the strength and the guidance and the peace needed from day to day even though we don’t know what the day holds for us. All of the past, present and future is in His hands.

Have a New Year blest by God, you can’t go wrong!

  Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired    

TAKE TIME – "Wind"

The cold wind of winter (and it is coming soon) can be most uncomfortable. But God’s creation is a marvel when you consider how the trees and some plants and flowers, and certain animals go into a state of hibernation during winter, in spite of the wind, and in spring come to life again. Stop for a moment for two just to praise the Lord for all His goodness toward us in the magnificence of His creation.

The word “wind” is also used in the description of human relations. Our daily lives are such that we need to test “the wind” with God’s infallible word to see if what is before us is pleasing to Him or not. The devil would like nothing better than to get you to change your life to his way, so he changes the “wind”, the moral code, the reliability of Scripture, family relations, the public code of ethics, with what might be more appealing to your own convenience and lack of responsibility. He desires to take you away from the Lord Jesus, his enemy. For many there are no more absolutes (right or wrong; whatever feels good do it). He would like nothing better than to leave you out in the cold wind of moral irresponsibility and the lack of spiritual integrity, away from God and His truth.

God’s love in our daily struggles is always there to protect us from any “winds” of adversity or like kind. He said, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 20:28). As the children of God through faith in Christ Jesus we are always kept safe and secure. He invites us to walk with Him always and be secure from the “winds” of life, no matter what the “season” our life is in. He says, “Commit your way unto the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” (Psalm37:5). Joseph said when tempted by Potiphar’s wife to commit sexual sin with her: “How can I sin and do this great wickedness and sin against God.” (Genesis 39:9c). For true happiness and peace let us live God-pleasing lives, loving God and fearing no man. (2 Timothy 2:22ff). In true faith let us receive the “crown of life” out of the warmness of God’s love, away from the “winds” of morally bankrupt lives. “Let go and let God” and you will have true happiness of life.

   Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired  

TAKE TIME – Home

“Home is where the heart is,” or, at least that is what they say. Every holiday season we hear of many efforts made to provide meals for the homeless, to gather toys for the homeless and poor children, and much more. It is an opportunity to share God’s love, and it reminds me of the great treasure the Lord has provided for me and my family. We have a home to always come home to.

One person Who changed the course of history never had a home. The verse in Scripture that included this phrase, “He had nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20) takes on greater significance for me as we celebrate Christmas when you consider the depth of God’s love for “the world.” Each Christmas and the weeks before and after, all revolve around this gift of God which provides for you and me the gift of a true and lasting “home.”

Let’s not take this for granted. The phrase I mentioned earlier, “Home is where the heart is” has more truth in it than at first consideration. My home is where the Lord brings together first Himself and us; second, where all gather together where we live and third, where Christians gather for worship. That is a very well rounded concept of home.

As the special observance of Christ’s birthday comes upon us, and we prepare for the second coming of Christ again at that day when He shall gather together all those who are His, we rejoice in our opportunities to give gifts to the less fortunate, to our friends, and to those near and dear to us. Let us Take Time to enrich someone’s life with a measure of our love following the example of God Almighty in the gift of His Son that all could be home for Christmas. Let us all build warm and secure homes with Christ Jesus at the heart of all that we do this day and always.

            Written by Pastor Raymond Harms, retired 

  

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