DAY 40: The Wonder of God . . . and More

“Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)” (Mark 9:5-6)

Being speechless is not usually one of the characteristics we think of when it comes to the apostle Peter. He often speaks without really thinking about what he is saying. This situation is no different. In fact, Mark tells us that he really didn’t know what to say here. So why did he say anything?  

The circumstances would leave most of us speechless. Peter, James, and John are together on a high mountain alone with Jesus. Suddenly the appearance of Jesus changes – His clothes and countenance are beaming bright. Moses and Elijah miraculously make an appearance. Talk about a spectacular moment!

Their stay up on that mountain was not intended to be a permanent one, so no need for three shelters. Instead, what the disciples witnessed was to be a moment of inspiration that would provide days of encouragement.  This experience was one to behold, not one to control.

Sometimes we can miss the wonder of God because we want to be in control.

In this final devotional of this series, you are encouraged to not miss the wonder of God that may very well be happening in your capital campaign. At this point the committees have all been busy with their work. Newsletters have been (or are still being) sent out. Leadership and impact gifts have probably been made. Sermons have been preached and Bible studies have been led. Testimonies have been shared. Commitment cards are being distributed and plans are being finalized for a celebration event. There has been a lot of activity that has gone into this campaign. But in the face of all that activity, don’t miss the wonder of God.

Don’t miss the wonder of God as the Spirit of God works in the hearts of people to respond. Don’t miss the wonder of God as people are motivated by mission. Don’t miss the wonder of God as the people of God offer their thanks to God for the blessings of God. Don’t miss the wonder of God as God reveals Himself in Word and worship, in song and Sacrament, in mission and ministry, and yes even in sacrificial giving and capital campaigns.

Don’t miss the wonder of God because it’s God’s very nature to display immeasurably more than anything we could ever ask or imagine.  

“It is good for us to be here.” Maybe that is all that needs to be said. Thanks be to God!          

DAY 39: Seeing Jesus . . . and More

“Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘we would like to see Jesus.’ Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.” (John 12:20-22)

As we review the events of the Passover festival, perhaps we can say that there were three kinds of people in the crowd that day. There were those who lined the streets waving palm branches as Jesus passed by in a triumphal parade. They shouted their praises to Jesus, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” (John 12:13)

But also in that crowd were skeptics and critics, Pharisees we call them. They weren’t the least bit impressed by Jesus. In fact, they were annoyed by Him. “Look how the whole world has gone after him!” (John 12:19) they said with disgust.

However, there was a third group who were there in the crowd that day. These were people who were at the Passover festival who didn’t really know Jesus. Oh maybe somehow they heard about him. Maybe someone they knew bumped into Him or heard Him speak or were even healed by Him at some point. Somehow or other these people knew “about” Jesus but they didn’t really know Him. They were curious. Seekers, you might say.  

So one of them tapped Philip (one of the disciples) on the shoulder and said, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”  Philip told Andrew. Andrew and Philip told Jesus.

Sometimes people are so forward and direct that they simply ask for what they want. How wonderful it would be if ministry was as easy as waiting for people to stop by our church asking us to introduce them to Jesus. But it usually doesn’t happen that easily, does it? In fact, it often takes more effort than that.

How important it is to keep the perspective that what your church is all about is introducing people to Jesus. And once people come to “see Him” (as the man requested), Jesus offers more than a passing glance. He offers His life. He offers forgiveness of sins, hope for this life, and the gift of eternal life through faith in Him.  

When the man asked, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus,” Jesus had so much more – immeasurably more – to give him.

“Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” To show people Jesus is why you are doing what you are doing even through this capital campaign. It’s really all about seeing Jesus, and nothing more.

DAY 38: A Willing Servant . . . and More

“‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said.’” (Luke 1:38)

Mary’s reply to Gabriel’s life-altering announcement might have been in Luther’s mind the day he wrote his explanation to the petition in the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy will be done.” He assures us that the will of God will be done, “. . . but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.”  

Mary accepted God’s will for her life. You might say that Mary was willing to do immeasurably more than most of us would ever expect. But she responded, “May it be to me as you have said.”    

Mary could have resisted. She could have doubted (like Zechariah) or protested (like Moses) or thought God’s plans to use her were impossible (like Sarah). But instead, Mary accepted. Not because it made sense, not because it fit into her plan for her life, not because she clearly knew what the future would hold. No, it was actually in spite of all the above. Instead, Mary accepted God’s will as an act of faith – faith not in herself, but faith in God.  

How easy (or difficult) is it for you to say those words? “Lord, may it be to me as You have said.” How life would change if our response to God was inspired by such faith.  

How about the capital campaign that you are a part of right now? Is the Lord speaking to you? Is the Lord prompting you to offer a response that may seem almost as unreasonable (and yet there is really no comparison) as what God was asking of Mary? Is it possible for the Lord to be calling you to offer a sacrificial gift that simply requires a response of faith and obedience?  

Why not pray about this faith challenge and see if the Lord prompts a Mary kind of response from you: “May it be to me as you have said.”

DAY 37: This Time . . . and More

“. . . If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

There is no one, ever, in the history of God’s universe, like you.

No one has ever had your collage of experiences, spiritual gifts, talents, abilities, challenges, foibles, sins to fight, and reality to engage. No one else is like you.

With that in mind, then it can be said of you too what was said of Esther: that you are who you are and you are where you are in life right now, “. . . for such a time as this.”  

“If you remain silent,” Mordecai said to Queen Esther, there may never be another opportunity, another chance as you have right now. Yes, there is no one else just like you and no other time just like now. And that also means that there is no one else who can do exactly what you can do right now.  

Too often, as we deal with the cares and needs and struggles (and joys) of life, we remain silent. We don’t open our mouths. We don’t offer a prayer. We don’t take a step. We don’t put forth the effort. Perhaps we are waiting for someone else to do it.

But it’s not the responsibility of someone else. God has called you (and me) to such a time as this.  

How easy it is to wait for someone else to do their part. What about their prayers? What about them taking a leadership role? What about their sacrificial gift?  

But the point that we hear in today’s verse is not what about someone else doing their part, but rather what about you? Because you are uniquely who you are, only you can do what God has called you to do. Because you are uniquely who you are, only you are called to live out such a time as this.

Consider your gift to this capital campaign as a gift that only you can give.

DAY 36: Giving . . . and More

(King David prayed) “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.” (1 Chronicles 29:14-17)

Just because God had denied King David the honor of building the temple didn’t mean David couldn’t run a capital campaign.

And that’s precisely what David did. David’s son Solomon was to be the one to build the temple. But David prepared the way with a capital campaign.  

It’s humbling to read the list of what David contributed to the effort – gold, silver, bronze, precious stones, and more. We believe that David gave joyfully and sacrificially. But the source of David’s joy was not just in what he gave, but in what he witnessed from others.

As David presented his gifts for the building of the temple he also observed, “All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.” David’s joy was not only in what he gave, but by seeing the involvement and the gifts of others as well.  

God takes great joy in observing the same.

One of the joys of a capital campaign is seeing the collective gifts and sacrifice of God’s people for this ministry effort. There is joy in your own personal giving, but there is also joy in the combined participation of others. Don’t miss the opportunity to thank God for not only what He has prompted you to give, but what God is doing in the lives of others as well.


DAY 35: Changing the Odds . . . and More

“Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie – the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, He asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’ ‘Sir,’ the invalid replied, ‘I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’ At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.” (John 5:1-8)

The person who got into the pool first received healing. That’s the way it worked. The odds were in your favor if you had friends or family ready to assist you. If you were alone and immobile . . . not so much.

The crowd waited for that stirring in the pool which heralded the healing power of God available for the first person to hit the water. The man approached by Jesus had probably waited too long for the odds to ever be in his favor, and might have given up hope of ever being healed.

Jesus changed the odds.

But not because Jesus picked up the man and helped him into the stirring pool, but rather by simply declaring him healed. It was a healing that was immeasurably more than the man ever expected.

Do you realize that the reason your church is involved in this capital campaign is because there are people who are waiting and wanting some kind of healing transformation in their life? For whatever reason, you haven’t connected with them yet. But now through a re-visioning of your ministry there just may be opportunity to connect with some of them in a new and powerful way.  

Here Jesus may change the odds, through your ministry, in the lives of more and more people in immeasurably more ways than before.

DAY 34: Last Laugh . . . and More

“He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talithi kuom!’ which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’” (Mark 5:41)

Jesus and His disciples were on the way to the home of Jairus, who had asked Jesus to heal his daughter. As they were going, the word came. It was too late. The little girl had died.

But Jesus continued on to Jairus’ house.

As they drew near, they could hear the loud cacophonous sound of grieving. There was wailing and moaning and beseeching and lamenting, all pouring from the home of Jairus. His daughter had died. There is no greater grief for a parent to bear.

But then Jesus entered the home and told the mourners to stop their wailing. The girl wasn’t really dead. She was sleeping.

Mourning turned to laughter. Wailing turned to derision. They laughed at Him, as they filed out the door.

Into the little girls room went Jesus, her parents, Peter, James, and John.

We can imagine the stillness of the room.

Jesus took the little girls hand and said, “Talitha kuom.” “Arise.”

And she did. She got off her deathbed.

Now Jairus, who had asked Jesus to heal his daughter, received immeasurably more. A healing is one thing.  Such things happen, on occasion. But a resurrection? Jairus went from despairing to rejoicing. Jairus received not merely healing for his daughter, but witnessing the dead brought to life.  

Sometimes we ask for a healing, and what Jesus wants to give is immeasurably more – new life.

As you examine what all God is doing through this capital campaign, don’t just look at the dollar amount raised.  Rather, focus on the renewed life for this ministry because of this effort. What new opportunities is God revealing? What new lives will be touched? What new blessings will He display? It’s always immeasurably more than we ask or imagine.  

DAY 33: A Giant Defeated . . . and More

“Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.” (1 Samuel 17:49)

A bully. That’s what Goliath was. Goliath was an Old Testament bully and most people were afraid of him.  

But not David. And yet David is described as one of the least likely candidates to go to battle against Goliath.  David’s brothers thought he was out of his mind thinking he could defeat the giant. And when David stepped forward prepared to battle against Goliath, Goliath was offended that the Israelites would present such an opponent. “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” (1 Samuel 17:43).

Nevertheless, against all odds David fought Goliath . . . and won. We can say that it was David’s stone and slingshot that killed Goliath, but we know that it was actually God’s power and presence. In fact, that is what David depended upon. When David met Goliath, he said: “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defiled.” (1 Samuel 17:45)

A bully defeated. Hooray!  

But that’s not all that happened that day. When David defeated the giant the men of Israel and Judah were able to pursue the Philistines, defeat them, and plunder their camp. But that’s not all that happened that day.

Before the battle David was told that the king will give great wealth to the man who kills the giant. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and exempt his father’s family from taxes in Israel. But that’s not all.

This event helped to establish David’s authority in the eyes of others.  

Overall, the implications of David’s defeat of Goliath were . . . immeasurable.    

Isn’t much the same true as a result of a capital campaign? Your ministry may be attempting to raise a certain dollar amount in order to facilitate the construction of a new building or an expansion of a ministry endeavor.  But raising that dollar amount isn’t actually the primary goal. Raising the dollar amount is really only the beginning, just as defeating Goliath was only the beginning.  

As you work towards meeting the goals of the capital campaign, pray for the Lord to show you all the other immeasurable blessings and outcomes that will flow from this effort as well.  

DAY 32: Asking for and Giving Gifts . . . and More

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:11-13)

Some concepts are just too big for most of us to grasp. They have to be broken down to understand.

Take for example, the national debt. According to the website on the day of this writing, the national debt was $17,236,316,959,263. All I really know is that’s a whole lot of money! I don’t know how to fathom or conceptualize a number that big.

However, if you go to here is a website that breaks this national debt number down into pieces by calculating that for each person in this country, our individual share of $17,236,316,959,263 (and counting) is about $54,329. Now, knowing that information probably won’t motivate you to mail in a check to anyone in Washington DC to cover your portion, but at least now (maybe) we can begin to process that kind of HUGE number.  

We have a similar problem in trying to conceptualize the size of God’s love. The problem? It’s too big! If you can’t get your head around something as numerically massive as $17 trillion, how can you ever absorb the immensity of God’s love?

So Jesus breaks it down into loving acts done by loving dads. “If you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask?” Now while we may not be able to fully comprehend the giftedness of God’s Spirit which we receive from our heavenly Father, we can begin to fathom the love of a father giving gifts to His children. I’ve done that. You have probably done that. And God does that.

And yet there is so much more that God wants to give. He just wants you to ask.    

This capital campaign may be a good time to ask for God to bless and grow and expand the ministry in your church. This capital campaign may be a good time to ask for the gospel of Jesus to be shared with more and more people. After all, “. . . how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask?”  

So since God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask . . . then ask.   

DAY 31: One Request . . . and More

\“At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from Him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched My clothes?’ . . . Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at this feet, and, trembling with fear, told Him the whole truth.” (Mark 5:30,33)

Slip in and slip out.

That was her plan. She knew that if she just touched the hem of His garment, she would be healed, despite 12 years of illness.

And she did it. The crowd around Jesus was pushing and shoving, moving along down the path toward Jarius’ house, where Jesus was heading to heal a sick girl. But in the crowd was an unnamed woman. It’s not likely that she pushed and shoved her way in toward Jesus. Rather, it’s more likely that she quietly yet determinedly worked her way through the crowd until she could ever so slightly touch the hem of His garment and slip away.  

And apparently she got what she came for. She could feel it immediately. Her illness was healed.

But she didn’t get far before Jesus called attention to her. How could He have known? It’s not as if you can even feel someone touch your clothes.

Nevertheless, Jesus stopped and demanded to know who had touched Him. Despite Peter’s insistence it could have been any number of people, Jesus persisted. Someone had touched Him. And He wasn’t moving until He knew who it was.

Coming forward was risky. She had been unclean. In fact, she had touched countless people in the process.  She had been opportunistic, putting others in harm’s way only to get what she wanted. Certainly Jesus, and others, wouldn’t look favorably on this.    

But she took the risk. And in doing so this woman received immeasurably more than what she came for. Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

She came for healing. He gave her more.  

How easy it is to think that all we are coming for with a capital campaign effort is enough money to complete this project. But a specific dollar amount is never the ultimate goal. How will lives be changed through expanded ministry? How is God challenging you in faith as you consider your sacrificial gift? How is this ministry gaining greater clarity and vision as a result of this effort? No matter what the goal might be, God can do more.