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I remember fondly from my childhood a particular print that hung on a wall at home. The image was of a guardian angel watching over children walking across a rickety and damaged bridge over a gorge.

The oft-adapted famous painting is usually listed as ‘Lindberg Heilige Schutzengel’ (‘Holy Guardian Angel’), though the name of the actual artist is the subject of some conjecture. (Lindberg was one of the poster printers for the work, not its creator.) Perhaps you can picture it. And, if you can, perhaps like me, you found a sense of comfort and safety in the image. It reminds me of our cover text Psalm 91:11 – ‘God will command his angels to protect you wherever you go’.

I also remember that, on the night the woman who gave that picture to my mum died, it fell off the wall. Was that just a coincidence? I guess I’ll never know.

Of course, believing that angels are a reality is one thing. Acknowledging that there are demons and other forces of evil active in our world is quite another. But in Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, we read again and again about Satan and his dark purposes, just as we are told about the angels who serve and worship the one true God.

In his explanation of the first article of the Apostles’ Creed, Martin Luther says that the evil angels or devils are ‘spirits who were created holy, but sinned and are forever rejected by God; cunning, powerful, and of great number; enemies of God, and of man, [who] endeavour to destroy the works of God’.

No wonder thinking about the devil and his charges working among us can be terrifying.

But the warning of St Peter – ‘Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’ (1 Peter 5:8) – is not the sum total of this story. God, as Father, Son and Spirit does not allow the Prince of Darkness to be sovereign over the earthly realm. Already in Genesis 3:15, God set in motion the plan for our rescue. And Luther again leaves us in no doubt in his explanation of the second article of the same creed – reminding us that our Lord has redeemed us, ‘purchased and won’ us from ‘sin, death and the power of the devil’.

God is in charge of the world we can’t see AND the world we can see, too.

In this edition, members of our Lutheran family share their reflections on and experiences of ways in which the spiritual and earthly realms intersect. I hope you will find them as enlightening, challenging and encouraging as I have.

In addition, you’ll find in these pages news, views and resources from around our church, along with our popular regular columns and devotional content.

May God bless your reading,


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Bishop Paul’s letter

Rev Paul Smith
Bishop, Lutheran Church of
Australia and New Zealand

‘Let your holy angel be with me so that the evil one may have no power over me.’ I say those words every day with my wife, Heidi, as we begin our day praying together the ‘Morning Prayer’ written by Dr Martin Luther.

This prayer is part of the daily worship plan that Luther included in his Small Catechism so that everyday Christian people would have guidance about what to pray at the beginning and end of each day.

Because I pray these words so frequently, I have often reflected on why Luther would include this focus on the ‘holy angel’ and ‘evil one’ in a prayer to start each day.

Firstly, the words which focus on angels set our minds on the witness of the Bible. Throughout Scripture, angels are mentioned repeatedly. They appear in biblical stories as messengers from God to humankind and our English word, ‘angel’ is drawn from the original Biblical word which means ‘messenger’.

In particular, angels appear at key moments in the story of our Lord Jesus, from his birth where angels proclaimed, ‘Glory to God’ before the Bethlehem shepherds, to the empty tomb where the angel told the women ‘Go quickly and tell … ’.

Secondly, the mention of angels in Luther’s prayer lifts our eyes from mundane matters of the human world to the things of God and mysteries not fathomed by our human reason. We live in a material world where advertising has reduced our identity to ‘consumer’ of products and services.

At the same time, we are barraged by the human quest to be in control, to know all and be certain of everything. The mention of angels in the morning prayer captures the mystery of the gospel – that there is more to this life than what my eyes can see or what my mind can figure out.

Like all of us, our young people need to be reminded of God’s mystery at work in our world. They need this message that they are not alone but can pray with Luther’s words, ‘Let your holy angel be with me’. Here is that reminder that our gracious God is present and active, daily providing for us.

Finally, Luther’s mention of the ‘holy angel’ and the ‘evil one’ in his morning prayer, takes me to the work of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am a human being who is flesh and blood and born in sin. Therefore, I need a saviour from sin, death and the power of the devil.

At the start of the day, Luther wants Christians to recall that God has entered into my world to rescue me and to give me hope in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Because of the work of the cross, I know that ‘one little word’ can overcome all the powers of ‘the evil one’.

As I write this message for you, I am aware that Christmas is coming and soon our lives will be inundated with Christmas advertising. Because of their prominence in the nativity story, angels will appear for sale in stores.

Knowing that angel means ‘messenger’, you might consider giving a family member or friend the gift of a little angel to remind them of the mystery of God at work in the gospel of Jesus. But remember to include in the gift, something of the message of God for us all: ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those upon whom God’s favour rests.’

‘Let your holy angel be with me.’ This short prayer keeps us focused on the scriptures and God’s gracious plan to bring us life and salvation, in mysteries beyond our human knowing.

I invite you to join Heidi and me, in regularly praying Luther’s morning prayer:

‘I thank you, heavenly Father, through your dear Son, Jesus Christ, that you have protected me through the night from all harm and danger. I ask you to keep me this day, too, from all sin and evil, so that in all my thoughts, words, and deeds, I may please you. In your hands I place my body and soul and all that is mine. Let your holy angel be with me, so that the evil one may have no power over me. Amen.’

In Christ,

Lord Jesus, we belong to you,
you live in us, we live in you;
we live and work for you –
because we bear your name.

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On a number of occasions, I have surveyed people to find out their ideas about what happens in the spiritual realm – the world we cannot see. The realm of God, of demons and of angels.

I ask them, ‘How much of what happens in the spiritual world do you think impacts on your day-to-day living?’ The answers vary from ‘basically nothing’ to ‘a huge impact’. ‘Some days not much. Other days a lot.’

I also ask, ‘How much impact do you have in the spiritual world?’. Again, the replies range between ‘some’ and ‘a lot’.

My next question is, ‘What specifically do you do that impacts the spiritual world?’. The answers: ‘prayer’ or ‘how I live my life’.

My short survey certainly reveals a variety of ideas about what goes on in the spiritual world, how it impacts us and how we impact it. Lots of people have lots of different opinions based on what they have experienced and how they have interpreted those experiences.

But what does the Bible say about the spiritual realm? One book that says a lot on this subject is Ephesians. In Ephesians, Paul refers to the spiritual world as the ‘heavenly realms’.

I once read in the newspaper that an insurance survey revealed that one-third of all Britons believe that their houses are haunted, and a quarter are convinced that a poltergeist has moved their possessions. If they believe that, what do they believe they can do about it?

I’ve travelled to Vietnam, and you don’t have to convince the Vietnamese people that there is a spiritual realm.

I’ve spent time teaching the pastors there, based on what we read in the book of Ephesians. From that teaching, they told me they had learnt about the authority we as Christians have in the heavenly realms.

In New Testament times from what we know, the people of Ephesus were also very aware that there is a spiritual realm. Witchcraft was practised, there was a temple to the pagan goddess Artemis and the people witnessed demonic manifestations in others, as well as miraculous healings through Paul.

Paul didn’t have to convince the Ephesians of the existence of the unseen realms, but he did need to teach them the truth about what goes on there.

So, what does happen in the heavenly realms, in the world that we cannot touch, and we cannot see? Who is there? What do they do? What’s it got to do with me?

In the heavenly realms, we have every spiritual blessing. As Paul says in Ephesians 1:3, ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ’.

It’s also where Jesus is … ‘he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms’ (Ephesians 1:20).

It’s where you and I are … ‘And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus’ (Ephesians 2:6).

If you are a Christian, you are already living in the heavenly realms. Not you will be, or could be, but ARE right now. It is a present reality.

And Ephesians is not the only place in the Bible where we are told that – examples include Luke 17:21 (‘The Kingdom of God is already among you’ – NLT).

If you never thought you could be in two places at once, think again. You’re reading this article and you’re sitting with Jesus in the heavenly realms.

The heavenly realms are also where rulers and authorities are. As Paul tells us in Ephesians 3:10, ‘His [God’s] intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms’.

What are those who are in the heavenly realms doing? Waging war against you and me.

In Ephesians 6 we read: ‘For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’ (Ephesians 6:12).

But, critically, it’s not a battle between Jesus and the devil, with the result still undecided. Through Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection, he defeated the devil. ‘In this way, God disarmed the evil rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross of Christ’ (Colossians 2:15 – NLT).

The victory has been won. At the time that Jesus decides, there is no question that the devil and all other evil forces will end up in hell. Until that time, there is still a battle going on in the heavenly realms. Jesus isn’t fighting the devil and his forces. We are the ones in the battle.

And what we do as we live our day-to-day lives does have a huge spiritual impact, which in turn has an impact on our day-to-day lives. For example, did you know that making peace with someone who you are angry with makes an impact in the heavenly realms?

Paul tells the Ephesians, ‘And “don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you”. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a mighty foothold to the devil’ (Ephesians 4:26,27 – NLT). Dealing with anger has an impact on earth and in the heavenly realms. It stops the devil from getting a foothold in your life.

Accompanying this article are two depictions that attempt to answer the question, ‘What do the heavenly realms look like?’. One picture was first drawn on a whiteboard about 30 years ago by a friend of mine. The other was painted in the Middle Ages and appeared in a Bible in 1534.

My friend, Shannon, drew a model of what the heavenly realms look like. I found it very helpful in how all these truths about the heavenly realms fit together.

The Bible talks about three places, or dimensions:

  • Heaven – where God is
  • The Heavens – where angels and demons are
  • Earth – where we are.

Heaven is also referred to by Paul as the third heaven, while heaven and ‘the heavens’ are ‘the heavenly realms’.

Jesus came down from heaven to earth – at his baptism it says that the heavens were torn open; the Spirit came down like a dove, and the Father spoke. After his death on the cross, the Bible says, ‘that God raised him up and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come’ (Ephesians 1:20,21).

When Shannon first drew this model for me, I had never seen anything like it. Then I saw a picture that Lucas Cranach painted which features in the Luther Bible from 1534.

When we are born again into God’s family, we are also seated in the heavenly realms. So, my spirit is in the two places – here in me, and also with Jesus. Seated next to Jesus, we have his authority and power.

We see in the Bible that Jesus used his authority to access the power of God to nurture and protect the good and to stop and overrule the bad.

He overruled the agenda of the devil, including driving out demons; he overruled sickness and injury in bodies when he healed and raised people from the dead; he showed authority over nature when he turned water into wine, calmed the storm and fed 5,000 people; and he showed authority over the human agenda of people influenced by evil (for example, Luke 4:28–30).

Of course, one way in which we access Jesus’ authority and power is to pray for God to work through us and in the lives of others.

Paul prayed for the believers in Ephesus at the start of his letter, that they would know three things: ‘I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you; the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints; and his incomparably great power for us who believe’ (Ephesians 1:18,19 – NIV).

The eyes of our heart to know the hope, riches and power that is ours. Sounds like good things to be familiar with, especially since they belong to you and me.

What would your life and my life look like if we really knew the hope, riches and power available to us? Can you imagine what God could do for us, in us and through us? It’s beyond our human comprehension.

As Paul concludes his prayer for the Ephesians, ‘Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen’ (Ephesians 3:20,21).

Pastor Michael Dutschke serves with the congregation of Grace Lutheran Church Bridgewater in the Adelaide Hills. He also leads prophetic ministry workshops on the topic of ‘Power and Authority in the Heavenly Realms’.

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No two cultures are exactly alike in understanding or beliefs about spiritual matters, even within Christian traditions. There is also a diversity of views and customs among Indigenous peoples across Australia and New Zealand. But, for one First Nations perspective, we asked Dora Gibson, a Thuubi Warra woman from Hope Vale in Far North Queensland, for her thoughts about the spiritual side of life.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are traditionally very spiritual people and their connection with the land – with country – and how it was created is a big part of that. However, people of every ‘country’ within First Nations people are different, with different traditional customs and practices.

Even prior to Christianity coming into the community, there was a belief in the afterlife and the concept of a soul that lives on – in our Guugu Yimithirr language, we know the soul as Wa wu. There were dances that were about the spirits, too.

There was also a belief in a supreme being, a creator. When Christian missionaries came, we came to understand the supreme being as God.

Our animal totems connect us to the spirit world. For instance, if an elder passes, that particular animal shows itself through sound and image to let us know, and we have this intuition that our loved one has passed. Also, after a person passes, it is believed that when it rains soon after, the rain washes his or her footprints off this world.

We believe that when people die, parents or ancestors, they move to another realm. But sometimes they come back or stay and watch over you – they are like angels.

Dora Gibson is a retired teacher, a Hope Vale local commissioner with the Family Responsibilities Commission and an activity supervisor at the Hope Vale Community Activity Hub. She also runs cultural workshops and is a member of St John’s Lutheran Church Hope Vale.

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by Erin Kerber

Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer described Christian community as ‘not an ideal we have to realise, but rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate’.

‘The more clearly we learn to recognise that the ground and strength and promise of all our community is in Jesus Christ alone, the more calmly we will learn to think about our community and pray and hope for it’, he said.

In this broken and often individualistic world, Bonhoeffer’s words may seem unrealistic. That is until we hear a story like Khun Dye’s, a young mother and wife living in Ban Huay Pong village in northern Thailand.

Along with most of her community, Khun Dye believed that the physical and spiritual worlds were intertwined. She understood that the spirits of her deceased ancestors would reward her if she remembered them with offerings and punish her if she failed to do so. These guardian spirits could be appeased by offering food, money and belongings through the medium of a doctor spirit.

The pressure to give substantial offerings to the doctor spirit greatly impacted Khun Dye’s family. They struggled to have enough for their daily lives and became fearful of the response from their deceased ancestors as what they could offer diminished. But the Holy Spirit was making himself known to Khun Dye. After becoming the first Christian in Ban Huay Pong, Khun Dye’s aunty showed her the movie Jesus. What touched Khun Dye most was how Jesus healed sick people and prayed for them, and how he helped the disabled and most vulnerable.

Presbyterian missionaries from Korea placed a sign in Khun Dye’s village, with words about Jesus. When she became sick, Khun Dye remembered the Jesus from the movie and the sign. Instead of giving sacrifices, she prayed for healing from God. She was healed, Jesus began to dwell in her heart, and she began to yearn for baptism.

At that time, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thailand evangelist Khun Pim was making regular visits to the village. Khun Dye sought out Khun Pim to ask about this powerful God who would heal without sacrifices.

About eight years ago, Khun Dye was baptised.

The night before he was crucified, Jesus prayed to his Father for his disciples. It was not a prayer for great faith or courage. It was a prayer for unity – not only for his current disciples but for all his disciples to come. Jesus knew our ability to love one another, and work together would be the greatest challenge to the credibility of our witness and the advance of his kingdom on earth.

Khun Dye’s story is not about one person telling her about the gospel. It is about a true Christian community who, despite differences in faith practice and theology, are bound together in Christ. As the Holy Spirit worked through their simple actions and humble service, Khun Dye encountered Jesus’ transforming love, peace and grace.

Erin Kerber is LCA International Mission Program Officer.

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by Erin Kerber

There are many concerns and worries in life, including day-to-day family struggles, cost-of-living pressures, the decline of those involved in worship services, noticeable changes to the environment and the impact on God’s creation of rapid population growth.

While everyone has worried at some point, have you ever feared the sense of an evil presence? For those who live in northern Thailand, originally from Laos, fear of the spirit world often frightens them into hopelessness.

For Yai Beh and her husband Da Sahk, the second last doctor spirit in the village of Banden, nightmares that kept them sleepless at night and enslaved by day were deeply entangled with evil spirits. The evil spirits had such an impact, that they were unable to sleep in their home because of the fear brought about by nightmares.

For Da Sahk, a solo walk through Banden could lead to the evil spirit controlling his body, so that he would walk toward other villages, requiring others to go out in search of him. When he became unwell, he treated his injuries with sacrifices and the blood of animals. He was a slave to evil. He and his wife lived in fear.

Their children had relaxed into the love of God, with light replacing their darkness, but Da Sahk and Yai Beh were scared to become followers of Jesus because they worried God wouldn’t protect them from the evil spirits that ruled their lives. They believed the place they dwelt was too dark to be brought out of.

But the Holy Spirit’s words through an Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thailand evangelist led them to want to be baptised. One week before their baptism, they had second thoughts. The evangelist supported them through their doubt and, once they were baptised, they felt released from evil and free for the first time.

Da Sahk and Yai Beh realised that they had already been God’s children – even before their baptism – and, because of this, they didn’t need to be afraid. God is now the reason for their living. When they are sick, they pray and believe in God’s help, and they never miss a Sunday worship service.

Yai Beh still has dreams, but the nightmares have been replaced by visions of someone coming in a white cloth, which she believes represents holiness and wholeness. She sees Jesus in her dreams now and sleeps peacefully.

Yai Beh sits self-consciously next to Da Sahk and expresses how important it is to continue to trust, even when our worries are great. They have witnessed the Holy Spirit’s power to release them from their most overbearing worries.

Their story is an encouragement to anyone with worries. Yai Beh and Da Sahk believe in the power of prayer and of asking the Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of those with worries, reminding them that God is always with them and can give them the strength to overcome fear.

Erin Kerber is LCA International Mission Program Officer.

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While the spiritual world of angels and demons may not be a regular topic of conversation among many Australians and New Zealanders, in other cultural contexts around the world, including that of Papua New Guinea, spiritual activity impacting human existence may be seen as part of everyday life. Lutheran pastor and seminary lecturer Mick Hauser, who lives and serves in PNG, shares his thoughts on the need to be watchful in spiritual matters.

In St Peter’s writings to persecuted early Christians living in regions of Asia Minor, he is unequivocal about the dangers the devil poses. And he knows the value of being on your guard when it comes to spiritual warfare.

This is serious business.

‘Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’, he warns his readers in 1 Peter 5.

‘Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings’ (1 Peter 5:9).

In Christian literature we also read about the need to be clearheaded when confronted by evil forces.

‘There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils’, cautions British Christian literary giant and theologian CS Lewis in his satirical novel Screwtape Letters, a timeless classic about spiritual warfare. ‘One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist and a magician with the same delight.’

Even though in a work of fiction, CS Lewis’ words are, in his usual fashion, a fine example of how to be watchful and sober toward the spiritual realm.

You will find the same watchfulness and sobriety in John Kleinig’s Grace Upon Grace: Spirituality for Today, Harold Ristau’s My First Exorcism: What the Devil Taught a Lutheran Pastor about Counter-cultural Spirituality and Spiritual Warfare: For the Care of Souls, as in Dr Robert H Bennett’s work on ‘True Accounts from the Lutheran Church of Madagascar’, entitled I am not Afraid: Demon Possession and Spiritual Warfare.

They are Lutheran resources dealing with this edition’s theme that are robust and practical, edifying the church against all types of spiritual attack, and yet they are also very grounded and ordinary. Indeed, God’s word calls us to a sober and watchful spirituality.

Stories of hidden spiritual realms are often dark and fearsome, told to provoke excitement and even to intoxicate as if the plot of a thriller or horror movie.

These hidden or secret things hold a great fascination for many people – increasingly so in a world that suffers various insecurities and uncertainty.

We can mistakenly think that delving into the secret places will bear fruits of success or salve for our ills in earthly matters. This drawing or attraction to hidden things is nothing new, even as it is dressed in new clothes in the supposed spiritual new age.

Nevertheless, it is a serious concern for our spiritual health. Dismissing the topic out of hand is not really watchfulness. Nor would obsession be sober-mindedness. Therefore, we seek to speak of things in truth, in a balanced way.

In my context of living and teaching within the Melanesian culture in Papua New Guinea, by accident I have needed to engage in all manner of discussions regarding the spiritual realm with students, pastors, friends and family.

I have had my fair share of ‘experiences’ as well. Just last evening a security guard at my home warned me of a visiting white owl who had displayed to him some kind of supernatural ability. It was the guard’s duty to warn me of such spiritual activity, as owls could be ‘spirits’ spying or wanting to carry a message or call out to people in my home.

Here, in Papua New Guinea, the hidden realm is understood, almost paradoxically, as part of daily life.

We are able to see glimpses or the shadows of spirits and demonic activity, yet never the full picture.

Certainly, because of the obscure nature of such talk or experience, and our inability to interpret them on our own, there is one thing that is sure about this realm – it gives people a fright.

While magicians believe they can control and manipulate spiritual realms, it is really more the other way around. The spirits trick, cheat, confuse and control them. This is why God warns us against delving into these dark arts (see Leviticus 19:26, Deuteronomy 18:10, Galatians 5:19,20, and Acts 19:19) – you can very quickly lose or destroy yourself. The devil devours you.

He without doubt outwits us as he dresses up as an angel of light, as St Paul warns in 2 Corinthians 11:14. And perhaps this is the most intimidating aspect we should learn about the dark hidden realm. It is ultimately beyond our control. And yet, it is not apart from God’s reach, from the voice and command of Christ.

Discovering we are at the mercy of spiritual things is humbling and hence a pathway to calling out in fervent prayer to Jesus, the one who overcame the devil. We receive from him his good gifts because we have been baptised in his name. In this way, we are standing firm in the faith!

Troubled by the frightful darkness of the spiritual realm, we are led to the Word, the light of the world, and prayerfully ask questions of him, so that the Word would truly lead us in all things and witness to his power and authority and thereby comfort us with his word.

As we read in Mark 1:34, ‘And he would not permit the demons to speak’. This is just one such example of Jesus’ power and authority over the devil and his minions.

Christ commands the evil spirits to be quiet. Just as his word creates life, it also shuts up evil. He is Lord of all creation!

At the close of the gospel of Mark we hear, ‘Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover’ (Mark 16:16–18).

Through baptism and faith in his promises, Jesus saves us from the power of the devil and all evil spirits. Not in a magical way, as Dr Robert H Bennett points out in I am not Afraid: Demon Possession and Spiritual Warfare: ‘The exorcisms of the New Testament are not magic. The power to exorcise demons does not reside within individuals, and the words used are not some sort of secret phrases that can be learned or purchased. Jesus is the actor in all true exorcisms. He has come into the world to bind the “strong man”.’

However, as Jesus speaks his promises, baptism ‘brings about forgiveness of sins, redeems from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe it’, as Luther’s Small Catechism explains.

Through this ordinary means of grace, Jesus himself entered the lives of all peoples who feared the spiritual realms, and he himself comes into our lives today in the same way, for the same purpose – to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). Just as we baptise, pray and receive the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus, we also cast out demons in his name.

So, we find we have three (not so) ordinary weapons in spiritual warfare; the holy name of Jesus (given to us in baptism), his holy word (spoken in Scripture) and our faith in him and his word (expressed through prayer).

As Jesus promises to come to us in his word and his sacraments, in watchfulness and with sober minds we pray for his coming. He comes with his angels in the glory of his Father (Matt 16:7) and, as he does, we can be confident of his spiritual protection because of his presence with us. Come, Lord Jesus, Come! ‘ … Let your holy angel be with me, so that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen’ (Luther’s ‘Evening Prayer’).

Pastor Mick Hauser serves as a missionary teaching at Martin Luther Seminary in Lae, Papua New Guinea.

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Resources for your time with God

Introduced during a time of COVID-related church closures and restrictions, our devotional pages under the Church@home banner have been very popular with many readers. But spending time with God throughout the week isn’t only a blessing when we can’t get to church on a Sunday. It’s an important boost for our faith every week. Therefore, you’ll continue to find support for your devotional life on these pages – and the LCANZ has plenty of other resources which we’ll highlight for your information, too.

– Lisa


Prayer – an oasis? by Ruth Olsen

Jesus … left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed (Mark 1:35b).

Read Mark 1:29–45.

As one reads these verses for today, one can sense action and movement, as if things are happening quickly. That’s a characteristic of how Mark writes. At the home of Simon and Andrew, Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever. Jesus took her hand and helped her up. The fever left, and she began serving them. Mark records no words, just action – a demonstration of Jesus’ authority.

Word spreads, and people crowd in, seeking help for their loved ones. Jesus heals many, but again, silences demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew who he was – again, demonstrations of Jesus’ authority, the authority of heaven. Jesus probably wanted first to show by word and deed the kind of Messiah he was before he declared himself clearly, and he would not let the demons frustrate this intent.

Early the following morning, Jesus went to a solitary place to pray. Much had been happening, but time aside from busyness to pray was a priority. Time to listen and be still, time for heart-to-heart communication, to recharge and replenish – an oasis away from busy ministry.

Simon and his companions find Jesus, telling him, ‘Everyone is looking for you!’, to which Jesus said, ‘Let’s go somewhere else, to preach there also; that’s why I have come’. What would your response be? ‘But … but …?’ However, Jesus was focused and would not be distracted by popular demand.

A man with leprosy comes to Jesus, desperately seeking help. You can read Leviticus 13 and 14 for the regulations required for dealing with an infectious skin disease, including the seven days’ isolation (lockdown?). Imagine the isolation of being untouchable. Yet Jesus touches him, speaks to him, and the leprosy is gone! Imagine the man’s delight and joy! But he is told not to tell anyone apart from the priest. Instead, his joy bubbles over to anyone nearby. Jesus, who is not seeking popular demand, retreats to lonely places, but people continue to pursue him even there.

Lord, increase our capacity to receive from you and share from you by the power of your Spirit at work in us and through us. Amen.

How much do we understand? by Pastor Mark Gierus

At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realise that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him (John 12:16).

Read John 12:12–19.

When it comes to life, how much do we understand? How were the heavens, the earth and all things that live on earth created? Do we comprehend the intricate relationships of all living things, let alone our own human relationships? Do we understand the deep thoughts, worries, anxieties, desires and hopes of our human hearts? Do we understand the work of Jesus?

The disciples, we are told, did not understand all the events that occurred. That Jesus said that he must suffer and die and be raised again. They did not understand that Jesus came as the King of Kings, yet also a servant king. Jesus did not come as a human conqueror on a battle horse, but as a suffering servant, humble and riding on a donkey. Only after the end of all the things that Jesus had to go through did the disciples realise what was happening. The heart of the matter was that Jesus came to suffer and die and rise again on the third day for the sin of the world.

Yet, like the disciples, we may not fully understand the mysteries of the work of God. We may not fully understand the work that continues in us by the power of the Holy Spirit through the word of God planted in our hearts. We may not fully understand why things happen the way they do, but as we read the word of God, we grow in faith to see Jesus in our lives. It is by faith that we live and have meaning. Faith in Jesus, the king who came to save us from our sins, to face each day with confidence in the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

When we meet Jesus on that day when he comes to take us with him forever, we will clearly see what Jesus sees. We won’t need to understand, for all that is unclear will be made clear. Some things seem wrong or out of place in life, perhaps different from how you would have done something. But it is in these very things that, by faith, we know that God works in us and through us for his glory. Jesus wasn’t weak for dying on the cross – instead of raising up an army to save him, he came as a servant to give up his life so that we might have life.

Lord, we don’t understand so many things – the wonders of your creation and the struggles we have in our own hearts. Yet, Lord, you love and shape us for your work through what we see and do. Help us trust you and remember your deep love for us, first shown by sending your Son Jesus to suffer and die for our sins and to offer us life forever with you in his name. Amen.

To receive the LCA daily devotion each morning in your inbox, go to and select Daily Devotions from the Churchwide list after entering your email address. These can also be printed off from the LCA website at


Week Sunday readings
1–7 OCT Exodus 17:1–7 Psalm 78:1–4, 12–16 Philippians 2:1–13 Matthew 21:23–32
8–14 OCT Exodus 20:1–4, 7–9, 12–20 Psalm 19 Philippians 3:4b–14 Matthew 21:33–46
15–21 OCT Exodus 32:1–14 Psalm 106:1–6, 19–23 Philippians 4:1–9 Matthew 22:1–14
22–28 OCT Exodus 33:12–23 Psalm 99 1 Thessalonians 1:1–10 Matthew 22:15–22
29 OCT–4 NOV Deuteronomy 34:1–12 Psalm 90:1–6, 13–17 1 Thessalonians 2:1–8 Matthew 22:34–46
5–11 NOV Joshua 3:7–17 Psalm 107:1–7, 33–37 1 Thessalonians 2:9–13 Matthew 23:1–12
12–18 NOV Joshua 24:1–3a, 14–25 Psalm 78:1–7 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 Matthew 25:1–13
19–25 NOV


Judges 4:1–7 Psalm 123 1 Thessalonians 5:1–11 Matthew 25:14–30
26 NOV–2 DEC Ezekiel 34:11–16, 20–24 Psalm 100 Ephesians 1:15–23 Matthew 25:31–46

For more prayer and devotional resources, including a listing of daily Bible readings for each day of the church year, go to

Lutheran Tract Mission also provides the readings in a booklet, which can be accessed electronically at or as a printed booklet through the LTM office (phone 08 8360 7222) for a donation of 20c per copy.  


1–7 Oct: Those members of the LCANZ nominated to serve as delegates to the 2024 Convention of General Synod in a year’s time

8–14 Oct: The unity of the church and the Way Forward for the office of the public ministry in the LCANZ

15–21 Oct: People working in aged or disability care around Australia and New Zealand, during Australia’s National Carers Week

22–28 Oct: Lutherans in New Zealand, on the anniversary of the signing of He Whakaputanga, the nation’s Declaration of Independence, in 1835 (28 Oct)

29 Oct–4 Nov: All who mourn the loss of loved ones and those who support them on All Saints Day (1 Nov)

5–11 Nov: The families and loved ones of those who have died in all wars and conflicts on Armistice Day (New Zealand)/Remembrance Day (Australia) (11 Nov)

12–18 Nov: The opportunity and commitment to follow Jesus’ example of showing love to our neighbours on World Kindness Day (13 Nov)

19–25 Nov: Those who support victims of violence on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 Nov)

26 Nov–2 Dec: All those who have suffered and continue to experience loss from floods, earthquakes, fires and other disasters

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