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Devotion for April 6

Friends in Christ,
The Lord be with you.

As we begin Holy Week our devotion for this Holy Monday is an excerpt from Rev. Harold Senkbeil's book Dying to Live: The Power of Forgiveness. The subtitle and theme of this section is life "Under the Cross."

Life and death. These are the two realities in which we live as baptized children of God. We bear the sign and the seal of the crucified Lord; we are marked with His cross. Buried with Jesus by our baptism into His death, we are also risen with Him into His new life. This reality of life in the face of death is the essence of Christianity. But in this world it remains a hidden reality. For now we live by faith.

One thing is clear. Since Christianity is a matter of both life and death, those who hope for a life of ease as a child of God deceive themselves. The Lord of life has entered this world of death, and that means there’s a life-and-death struggle going on in this dying world of ours. Jesus Christ makes it clear that everyone baptized into Him will live the life of a combat soldier. The entire Christian life in this world is lived on a battlefield. Christ has won the victory, to be sure. But that victory remains hidden to the human eyes. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, and then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:3–4)

One day, when God rings down the curtain on the entire drama, these hidden realities will be evident to all. But not now. For now, we live by faith. And since we live by faith, our life in this world bears the sign of the cross.

The cross of Christ cuts two ways, since it is a matter of both life and death. First, it means the life of Jesus Christ is exchanged for death. Therefore His cross is our joy and hope. But the cross that brings us the life of Christ also means the death of our sinful nature. And death is never a pleasant experience. Through hardship and affliction, our Lord leads us to take a hard look at our sin, which means He leads us to sorrow and repentance.

This is where you and I usually bail out. It’s okay as long as things are going along fine in our lives, but when the going gets tough we often say, "Thanks, Jesus, but no thanks. This is where I get off." Yet our Lord makes it clear that tough sledding is to be expected in the Christian's life: “If anyone would come after me he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24)

How easily we forget! The cross of Christ is God's life-giving instrument. There was no way to live for Him except through death. Christ’s way is by definition the way of the cross. But it is not our natural way. Left to ourselves, you and I continually choose the path of glory; we’d much rather have strength, power, and prestige than weakness, suffering, and affliction. Yet only one route leads to life. Our way promises life, yet finally delivers only death. Christ’s way leads right through death into life. The way of the cross is the only road to life in this dying world.

Let us pray,
Almighty God, Your Son willingly endured the agony and shame of the cross for our redemption. Grant us courage to take up our cross daily and follow Him wherever He leads; though Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for Proper 17, Series A)

The almighty and merciful Lord, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, bless and preserve you. Amen

Blessed Holy Week,
Pastor Shawn Nettleton

Rev. Shawn Nettleton is Senior Pastor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 970-305-2420.

Devotion for April 3

Friends in Christ,
The Lord be with you.

Today's devotion is part of a lecture given by Charles Hayden Spurgeon (1832–1903) to his students studying to be pastors. His words of wisdom apply to all Christians in the midst of trial and struggle.

By all the castings down of his servants, God is glorified, for they are led to magnify him when again he sets them on their feet, and even while prostrate in the dust their faith yields him praise. They speak all the more sweetly of his faithfulness, and are the more firmly established in his love. Such mature men as some elderly preachers are, could scarcely have been produced if they had not been emptied from the vessel to vessel, and made to see their own emptiness and the vanity of all things around about them. Glory be to God for the furnace, the hammer, and the file. Heaven shall be all the fuller of bliss because we have been filled with anguish here below, and earth shall be better tilled because of our training in the school of adversity...

Cast not away your confidence, for it hath great recompense of reward. Even if the enemy's foot be on your neck, expect to rise and overthrow him. Cast the burden of the present, along with the sin of the past and the fear of the future, upon the Lord, who forsaketh not his saints. Live day by day - aye, by the hour. Put not trust in frames and feelings. Care more for a grain of faith than a ton of excitement. Trust in God alone, and lean not on the reeds of human help. Be not surprised when friends fail you: it is a failing world...

Continue with double earnestness to serve your Lord when no visible result is before you. Any simpleton can follow the narrow path in the light: faith's rare wisdom enables us to march on in the dark with infallible accuracy, since she places her hand in that of her great Guide. 1

Spurgeon's words echo the words of St. Paul in Romans 5; “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (vv. 2b–5) They also echo the words of St. Peter; "In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, as was necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith- more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire- may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:6–7)

God uses all things for His good. He uses trial and suffering to shape and strengthen our faith in Him. But thanks be to God that it is not our strength that gets us through trial and suffering, but Him who forsaketh not His saints, whose strength and power is made perfect in our weakness, whose grace is sufficient for all our needs of body and soul. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Merciful God,
In this earthly life we endure suffering and trial, hardship and afflictions, before we enter into eternal glory. Grant us Your grace at all times to trust in Your holy will and continue steadfast in faith knowing that the sufferings of this present life are not worth comparing to the glory that is to come; though Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The almighty and merciful Lord, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, bless and preserve you. Amen

Serving you in Christ,
Pastor Shawn Nettleton

  1. John Doberstein, ed., Minister's Prayer Book (Fortress Press, 1986), 229-227.

Rev. Shawn Nettleton is Senior Pastor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 970-305-2420.

Devotion for March 31

Friends in Christ,
The Lord be with you.

The Word of the Lord from Psalm 143.

Hear my prayer, O LORD;
 give ear to my pleas for mercy!
  In your faithfulness answer me,
  in your righteousness!
Enter not into judgment with your servant,
  for no one living is righteous before you.
For the enemy has pursued my soul;
  he has crushed my life to the ground;
  he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.
Therefore my spirit faints within me;
  my heart within me is appalled.
I remember the days of old; I meditate on
 all that you have done;
  I ponder the work of your hands.
I stretch out my hands to you;
  my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.
Answer me quickly, O LORD!
 My spirit fails!
  Hide not your face from me,
  lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
Let me hear in the morning of your
 steadfast love, for in you I trust.
  Make me know the way I should go,
  for to you I lift up my soul.
Deliver me from my enemies, O LORD!
  I have fled to you for refuge!
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God!
  Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!
For your name's sake, O LORD, preserve my life!
  In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies,
  and you will destroy all the adversaries
  of my soul, for I am your servant.

Psalm 143 is known as one of the seven penitential (confession of sin) psalms as well as a lament psalm sung by those who are in deep distress.

The situation facing psalmist here is dire. His prayer and plead for God's mercy is urgent! He begins by confessing his own sin and appealing to God's grace (v. 2). Here he shows us that times of great tribulation and suffering are times for God's people to turn to Him in repentance and faith.

It is unclear who or what is the psalmist's enemy. It could be any one of what Luther called the unholy trinity, "the devil, the world, and our sinful nature." Whoever or whatever this vicious enemy is, it has chased down the psalmist, overtaken and crushed him down to the ground and left him for dead (v. 3). The psalmist knows that he cannot save himself. Thus, he calls on the Lord who is his only refuge and hope.

Desperate for help, for rescue, for deliverance, for life, the psalmist pleads for God not to hide His face from him lest he go down to the pit, the grave. Just as a child hides behind a parent for protection, so the psalmist wants to hide in God for refuge and life. He appeals to the Lord's name, to His righteousness, His faithfulness and His unfailing covenant love (hesed).

The Lord is faithful and He always keeps His covenant. His mercy and love for His people knows no end. Therefore, He has answered this prayer. In fact, in Christ Jesus this prayer is answered for the psalmist and for us. Christ is the One who was chased down and overtaken by wicked men. He is the One was "wounded for our transgressions... crushed for our iniquities" (Isaiah 53:5). He is the One who laid in the darkness of death (v.3), the One whom the Father hid His face from and did not rescue, the One whom the Father did not deliverer from the hand of our enemies, the One who went down to the pit, the grave for us.

Christ Jesus faced our enemies, all of them, head on for us! By His death He has swallowed them up and left them in His grave defeated forever. Like a child hiding behind a parent for protection our lives our now hidden in Christ (Col. 3:3), they are safe and secure in Him from all things that would seek to harm us.

Gracious and Merciful Father,
You are faithful and just, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast covenant love. You always hear the cries of your people in distress. Because You hid Your face from Your only Son on the cross, You will never ever hide Your face from Your children whose lives have been united to His in Holy Baptism. Deliver us from our enemies, remove from us fear and anxiousness, and grant us patience in the midst of trials and tribulation that trusting in Your loving-kindness and mercy we may abide in peace and live confident in hope; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The almighty and merciful Lord, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, bless and preserve you. Amen

Serving you in Christ,
Pastor Shawn Nettleton

Rev. Shawn Nettleton is Senior Pastor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 970-305-2420.

Devotion for March 26

Friends in Christ,
The Lord be with you.

As I mentioned Tuesday, I will be sharing various devotions with you over the coming days and possibly weeks of isolation and separation from the Lord's house. I pray that these meditations on God's Word will be a source of strength, hope, peace and even joy in Christ over the days ahead.

The second installment of these devotions comes one of my favorite pastors and devotional writers, Rev. Bo Giertz (1905–1998). Today's devotion and prayer comes from his daily devotional To Live with Christ, pgs. 136–138.


Saturday After The Third Sunday After Epiphany
Mark 7:24–37

My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God.Isaiah 40:27

That’s how it can be perceived. That’s what they said in Israel. We read it in the prophet Isaiah. We read the same thing in many other places in the Old Testament. We hear the psalmist cry:

Why do You hide Your face? Why do You forget our affliction and oppression?Psalm 44:24

O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.Psalm 22:2

How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever?Psalm 13:1

I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.Psalm 69:2

Why should You be like a man confused, like a mighty warrior who cannot save?Jeremiah 14:9

Godless people aren’t saying this. It comes from people who believe, who desire to walk with God, who need His help. It’s not easy to live. There are so many unexplainable events in our world, and they hit us terribly hard.

But through all this we have Jesus. That means that something has come into the world that opens up completely new opportunities. That is what the text for the fourth Sunday in Epiphany is about.

Let us realize that we really can feel as if we’re abandoned by God. We can feel defeated by a power that has nothing to do with God. This could be a storm or natural disaster. It could be a war or people’s malicious attitudes. It could be job loss, incurable disease, or the threat of death.

What does God do about all this? We find the answer in Jesus. It is He Himself who is the answer. He lived with all of this. He went through it Himself. Yet He conquered it, and He includes us in this victory. This is not so we can escape suffering but so we can say with the apostle: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

Dear Lord and Master,
You know how afraid I am to suffer. You know I want to evade everything that hurts, to escape sickness and pain, slander and criticism. I try to avoid difficult people and tedious obligations. Then I think about everyone who suffers. I think about how they could escape if the world were free from everything that causes so much pain and so many tears. If it was possible to take it all away, I know You would have done it long ago. But instead, You put Yourself in the middle of it all. Now You are here with us, in the midst of this evil world. Therefore, I pray to You that You help me to see all this as You see it. Teach me to endure suffering the same way you did. I don’t want to pray for anything else except that You would always be with me, come what may. [Amen.]


The almighty and merciful Lord, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, bless and preserve you. Amen.

Serving you in Christ,
Pastor Shawn Nettleton

Rev. Shawn Nettleton is Senior Pastor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 970-305-2420.

Devotion for March 24

Friends in Christ,
The Lord be with you.

Over these days and weeks of isolation and separation from the Lord's house, I will be reaching out with various devotions and prayers; some written by me, some written by others. In this way, I hope to stay in touch with you and I pray that these meditations on God's Word will grant you strength, hope, peace and even joy in Christ over the days ahead.

The first installment of these devotions comes from the pen of Dr. Martin Luther on the essence of faith. The following is an excerpt from Luther's famous Eight Sermons at Wittenberg (1522). On March 6, 1522 Luther returned from the Wartburg to help restore order to the churches of the reformation from turbulence and confusion caused by the radical reformers. On March 9, Invocavit (Latin for “I call”) Sunday, the First Sunday of Lent, Luther preached the first of eight sermons focused on the gospel of Christ and what was essential to the faith.

Faith … is a firm trust that Christ, the Son of God, stands in our place and has taken all our sins upon his shoulders and that he is the eternal satisfaction for our sin and reconciles us with God the Father. He who has this faith … devil nor hell nor sin can harm him. Why? Because God is his protector and defender. And when I have this faith, then I am certain God is fighting for me; I can defy the devil, death, hell, and sin, and all the harm with which they threaten me. This is the great, inestimable treasure given us in Christ, which no man can describe or grasp in words. Only faith can take hold of the heart … But if you believe that God steps in for you and stakes all he has and his blood for you, as if he were saying: Fall in behind me without fear or delay, and then let us see what can harm you; come devil, death, sin, and hell, and all creation, I shall go before you, for I will be your rear guard and your vanguard (Isaiah 52:12); trust me and boldly rely upon me. He who believes that can not be harmed by devil, hell, sin, or death. 1

Let us pray.
Heavenly Father, You did not spare Your only Son, but gave Him up for the sins of the whole world. Because Your Son stood in our place and took upon Himself the wrath and punishment for sin that was ours, His blood covers us from all sin, makes us Your holy and beloved children, defends us from the evil one and gives us a life that death cannot touch. Strengthen us in these gray and latter days that You are indeed our protector and defender, our rearguard and vanguard, that in You we are completely safe from devil, hell, sin and death itself; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The almighty and merciful Lord, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, bless and preserve you. Amen

Serving you in Christ,
Pastor Nettleton

  1. Martin Luther, The Sixth Sermon, March 14, 1522, Friday after Invocavit, vol. 51, Luther's Works, 92-93.

Rev. Shawn Nettleton is Senior Pastor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 970-305-2420.

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