And He (Jesus) answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." Luke 13:2-5
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The salvation story of Jesus Christ reaches around the world. So that the readers of our Daily Devotion may see the power of the Savior on a global scale, we have asked the volunteers of our International Ministry Centers to write our Friday devotions. We pray that the Spirit may touch your day through their words.
In Christ, I remain, His servant and yours,
Kenneth R. Klaus
Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour
November 21, 2013, was a very shocking day in Latvia.
That was because a large shopping mall in Riga collapsed, killing and wounding many people. The tragic news story was immediately broadcast by the international media. Fifty-four people died and 42 were injured. Miraculously, all of the children who were in the mall that day were spared.
There were a number of thoughts that were shared by all of us who survived. First, all of us were brought to a realization that life, any of our lives, can be snuffed out in a moment. Second, we were left wondering why people had ignored the warnings and hadn't tried to escape. Yes, it was true: the visitors and the staff of the shopping mall had ignored an alarm which, for an hour, had been sounding a warning of impending disaster.
People asked themselves, "Can death really come to me so suddenly? Even while I am choosing what type of milk I want to buy -- whole or skim?" People wanted to know, "What would be my reaction to the alarm? Would I do what everyone else was doing? Would I run to buy a piece of bread and ignore the alarm? Would I be more careful?"
The tragedy also exposed another sorry issue in our society.
Out of the 54 who died, only six were living in a legal, marital relationship. That fact made the task of finding and providing help for the next of kin most difficult for our government. Although it may not have been what the deceased would have wanted, the state could legally only help those who were in a lawful relationship, and not those who were merely living together.
Of course, the greatest questions asked by the media were, "Where was God when all this happened?" and "Why did the Lord allow such terrible things to happen at all?" Soon it seemed like everyone was challenging heaven with their, "Why? Why? Why?"
To those who do not know Jesus and who are not forgiven by the Lord, the real answer can be illusive, frustrating and non-existent. In contrast, things are quite different for those who have been brought to faith in the Savior. While we who have lost loved ones may still be pained by death, we know the crucified and risen Savior is with us. We rejoice that because the Savior lives, we shall also live.
Because we live in a sinful world there are many terrible and tragic things we cannot avoid or predict or stop. Our nation suffered much in two World Wars, the Holocaust, and genocide during the time of the Soviet Union.
That being said, there remains one thing we can do! We can repent, just as Jesus asked us to do in Luke 13.
Repentance will not prevent us from dying in this life, but the forgiveness the Holy Spirit gives to repentant and believing hearts does grant them life everlasting in a place where accidents, sin, evil and death have been banished.
THE PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, from Your boundless mercy we have received our lives and everything that we have: our families, friends, daily bread ... everything. Grant that the evil foe does not have power over us. Let us be thankful for the joys You give to all of us and make us thankful for times of hardships and sufferings. Help us know that through them You can increase our faith and trust in You. This I ask in the Savior's Name. Amen.
Biography of Author: Today's international devotion was written by former Latvian Lutheran Hour Ministries' employee and present volunteer Ilze Abraha. She currently is working as a bookkeeper in an international company, and she is married and has two sons. As a volunteer, Abraha works with our ministry center staff by telling the citizens of this former Soviet Union country about the Good News of salvation, which is theirs through Jesus Christ.
Lutheran Hour Ministries-Latvia, known in-country as Lutheran Hour Mission, supports the efforts of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia, from its ministry center in Riga. Through Equipping the Saints (ETS) workshops, it trains Christians to be outreach-minded in respect to their faith. It also uses four different Bible Correspondence Courses (BCC), which are tailored to both adults and young people, either individually or in study groups. Beyond that, LHM-Latvia connects with communities through radio programming, movie night/discussion events, vacation Bible schools, and it even features a seminar series on Christian living: the "School of Spiritual Survival."
Stop by and click here to visit LHM-Latvia's blog and see what's going on in this Northern European country of nearly two million people.
To learn more about our International Ministries, click here or visit www.lhmint.org.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries