Immanuel Voices
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December 17, 2018, 8:55 AM

Daily Inspiration: Advent 2018 Isaiah 40 #1


A New Voice

Isaiah 40:1-2
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her that her warfare is ended,


Thought for Today

Isaiah the prophet had a thankless job. After his much celebrated “Here I am! Send me” moment, Isaiah discovered that his mission was to go and speak to a people who were “ever hearing and never understanding; ever seeing, but never perceiving.” Because of the hardness of the hearts of the people of Israel it had been his job to read them the riot act for 39 chapters (25+ years of his life). Now God’s heart breaks for His people. He refuses to speak harshly to them anymore. God gives a new command to Isaiah, “Comfort, Comfort my people, says your God.” This may have been a difficult year for you. It may feel like God has been reading you the riot act for the past 11 months. Advent is a season that breaks into those harsh days with a new voice. As we prepare for Christmas, God begins to speak comfort into our lives. Gatherings of good cheer break the tedious rhythm of our days. Thoughts turn to family. We begin to get a little excited. These days are here to remind us that God is about to do something amazing. He broke into our world in a baby born in a manger, child who was the embodiment of hope and peace. Comfort, comfort my people! Tell them that their warfare is ended! God speaks words of hope into our haggard lives.



Heavenly Father, thank You for being a God of hope. Let me have ears to hear your cries of comfort and peace in my life. Amen.


Devotional Quote

God's movement is often abrupt and unsettling rather than predictable and settling. ― Michael Joseph Brown


Quote of the Day

It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go. — Jim Rohn

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October 22, 2018, 7:27 AM

How Can I Teach My Child About Giving?

"Children learn what they live" surely isn't a time-worn phrase, but it is time tested. It comes from a poem written by practitioner, parent educator, and family counselor Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D. The poem has been shared countless times in magazines, memes, and even by a baby formula manufacturer; and provides insight into positive motivation for children that has withstood the test of time. Research study after research study proves the validity of this simple poem and provides an equally simple guide for parents on how to develop these vital characteristics in their children.

Learning to give at Christmas can be a difficult lesson for children. It is so much fun getting caught up in the joy and anticipation of the season: shopping, decorating, baking, wishing. But a gift that serves children far beyond Christmas morning and provides them with the skills and temperament necessary to be a quality human are the gifts of patience, appreciation, love, generosity, respect, and the understanding that the world is a wonderful place. These are gifts that can be shared with your child at the Operation Christmas Child Packing Party at Immanuel Lutheran Church and School on Fri., Nov. 9, beginning at 3:30 PM. 

At the Party, you and your child will write letters to children around the world and then grab a shoe box and pack a gift with items selected by your child from the mountain of options provided. The atmosphere of patience and acceptance for all ages and all temperaments provides lessons in patience and love. Understanding that these gifts are for someone they will likely never meet, not something they get to take home themselves, is a strong lesson in sharing and generosity. And when they experience being treated kindly by Packing Party volunteers, and being kind to another, they learn the true meaning of respect. Wrap it all together and you've not only provided a child in need with the joy of unexpected gifts and the message of Jesus' love, you've provided your child with an afternoon of priceless lessons. 

The community is always invited to this annual event; we hope to see you there!


Children Learn What They Live
by Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with 
fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel 
If children live with 
jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with 
shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn 
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to 
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn 
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have 
faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Copyright © 1972 by Dorothy Law Nolte



March 30, 2018, 8:00 PM

The Dying Word

“Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!” Luke 23;46


22 "When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, 'Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord'), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: 'A pair of doves or two young pigeons.'

25 "Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”

33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Luke 2:22-35


Joseph carried in the turtledoves into the temple that day, but he and Mary knew that the real sacrifice was the one she was carrying so lovingly in her arms. The prophet Malachi had foretold that “the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple” (3:1). Now the Lord enters the temple in the arms of His mother. She and Joseph think they are the only ones who know. But suddenly there is an old man coming toward them, his arms outstretched and not to be denied. There is on his face a look that Mary recognizes. It was on her cousin Elizabeth’s face when she visited her as a newly pregnant mother. It was on the face of the shepherds the night of the child’s birth. Now it is on the face of this old man. Mary and Joseph understand—yet another one who has been let in on the great secret of the ages.


As the old man takes the child in his arms he begins to pray. Artists usually depict him looking up to heaven, but perhaps he simply looked down into the face of heaven’s Lord as he announced that he was ready to die. That is what “depart in peace” means—“I can die now in peace.” The peace came from the child. Had not the angels sung the night of His birth: glory to God in the highest and peace on earth?


Simeon looks at the fulfillment of the promise of the ages: here is the child by whom the serpent’s damage would be undone; here in frail human flesh and blood is the death of death; the forgiveness of sins; the life that never ends. And He is for everyone: a light for the Gentiles and glory for Israel.


As Simeon hands the child back, he foretells that this child will be a stone of stumbling in Israel. Many will fall because of Him, but many also will rise. And he tells the mother: A sword will pierce your own heart also.


That was fulfilled years later as Mary stood in the darkness and watched her Son give Himself as the sacrifice to wipe out the sins of the world and offer Himself to death in order to slay death for all who believe in Him.


As Simeon walked away, no doubt the look of wonder remained upon His face. He was ready to meet death now—for he knew that death itself was coming to an end!


The Death of Jesus

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last." Luke 23:44-46


Darkness is upon the earth, though it is the middle of the day. One of our hymns expresses it like this: “Well might the sun in darkness hide And shut his glories in. When God, the mighty maker, died For His own creatures’ sin” (LSB 437:3).


Darkness suggests nighttime and sleep, and indeed Christ goes to meet death in the same way that a person lies down to meet sleep. He had called death a sleep before (with Jairus’s daughter and with Lazarus’s death). Now He prepares to enter it like a child going off for a night’s slumber. He meets it in the confidence that His Father will awaken Him from it.


The tearing of the temple veil suggests that what Christ is doing upon the cross removes the barrier between the all-holy God and the race of sinful men. In Christ’s own flesh we meet and encounter God, and may do so without fear, when we draw near Him in faith. He is the very sacrifice of atonement.


As earlier He had prayed from Psalm 22, so now He takes up Psalm 31 and commits His spirit into the hands of His Father and so breathes His last. By this our Lord teaches us that death is the separation of the soul or spirit from the body, and that the soul or spirit returns to God immediately upon breathing our last in this age. But Jesus commends His spirit not in the sense that His body is of no more use; rather, it is in God’s safekeeping until the joyful moment of resurrection arrives. This holds true for us too. We may be confident when we die that our spirits or souls are with God in heaven, but we know that He keeps them not to be forever disembodied, but so that on the day of our Lord’s appearing, the souls may be restored to the body. This is the meaning of the line in “For All the Saints”—“But, lo, there breaks a yet more glorious day: The saints triumphant rise in bright array; The King of Glory passes on His way. Alleluia! Alleluia!” (LSB 677:7). It might be worthwhile to review the whole theology of death as it is laid forth in the classic hymn “This Body in the Grave We Lay” (LSB 759).


In such confidence in the Lord’s care of our souls and awaiting our resurrection, the Church teaches us each night to commend ourselves into God’s care and keeping, as we join in Simeon’s song and pray Martin Luther’s Evening Prayer.


To live a blessed life, we must first know how to die a blessed death. Simeon was ready die in peace after having seen that God’s salvation had taken on human flesh and blood. He saw the baby, held Him, and rejoiced to know that the death of death, and the forgiveness of sins, lived and breathed upon earth. Comforted by that, Simeon was ready to depart this life in God’s peace. Our Lord also teaches us to face death square on. He finished the work His Father gave Him to do and then commended His spirit into the Father’s hands and keeping. Because of His redemption, we, too, can confidently place our spirits or souls into God’s loving hands and know that He will not forget us, but will vindicate our trust in Him when the day of the resurrection arrives by raising our bodies even as our Lord’s body was raised. Until then, our spirits will go on living in His presence and continue to praise and extol Him. Each night as we lay our heads down for sleep we practice for our death: “For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things” (Luther’s Evening Prayer).



*Adapted from CPH’s “Words of Life from the Cross” Lenten Resource

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